Boston Dynamics Stretch at Work Unloading Containers at DHL

Here is more about the Boston Dynamics Stretch warehouse robot. DHL Supply Chain has ordered US$ 15 million of these robots.


Just an observation. All the boxes were square and within the perimeter of vacuum block. Wonder what the weight capacity of the vacuum block.
Would like to see what happens with a truck of all types and sizes comes in.
Now perhaps they will organize there shipping with containers of all square boxes .

Now that they would order so many Stretch . Perhaps this has been worked out . However, the video was one dimensional.


Also consider the cartons. The weight in the carton is transmitted as a shear load in the end wall contacted by the vacuum block or as a tensile load in the top if held from above.


Wow, a Boston Dynamics robot actually doing something useful.


Is it imaginable that, until more versatile robots are developed, standardized small-ish shipping containers may be adopted to facilitate automated handling? You know, like intermodal freight containers writ small.


The suction cup gripper (vacuum end effector) is a widely used technology in robotics with multiple manufacturers and models. Here is one:

They can grip packages of various shapes and irregular objects and work well grabbing the plastic bags the garment industry uses for inventory. They do not require precise placement to grip an object. I suspect the greater challenge unloading a container of random size and shape packages would be recognising where to grip and where the destination label was located.


That is an excellent observation. Long distance transportation was revolutionized (within many people’s lifetime) by the realization that cheap fossil fuels made it possible to transport economically the “dead weight” of maritime shipping containers – with the cost of shipping that dead weight being more than offset by the economies from faster/easier handling in ports.

Maybe the next stage would be adoption of standard boxes – something analogous to the European A4, A5, etc paper sizes – to accommodate different sizes of items. We may already be part of the way there, since the boxes in the video seem to be all the same size. Of course, this would eventually impact the size of manufactured goods, since it would be advantageous to make them fit within specified dimensions.


For shipping it is probably an efficiency win to choose a set of box sizes that fill 3-space without gaps. That lets you fill containers without paying to ship air between boxes. Optimally fitting the available boxes into the container could probably be delegated to the loading robot.

Back when I bought physical books from Amazon they seemed to come in standard sized boxen like that.