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Boston Dynamics robot Stretch got a new ability "Multipick"!

Boston Dynamics has upgraded its box-moving robot Stretch with a new "Multipick" ability that allows it to grab multiple boxes simultaneously - boosting its productivity for busy warehouses.

When approaching a stack of boxes, Stretch analyzes the size, placement, and properties of each one, determining if it's optimal to grab one, two, or even three at a time. It secures each box using an array of suction cups along its gripper arm.

The robot's grip strength is precisely controlled for each box based on a grasp plan from Stretch's vision system. This ensures stable holds as the gripper makes contact, then allows releasing specific boxes when placing them down by selectively turning suction cups on and off.

This versatile Multipick technique chooses how many boxes to grab case-by-case for maximum efficiency. Stretch might grab pairs of smaller boxes or single larger ones depending on their arrangement. By tailoring each pickup, its warehouse productivity is boosted.

Stretch was first unveiled by Boston Dynamics in 2021 after three years in development. It's equipped with an 8-hour battery for continuous operation, upgraded from its initial 4-hour capacity. A 16-hour extended battery will also be offered, along with the option to plug in for 24/7 power.

The robot owes its picking skills to the Pick vision system acquired from Kinema Systems in 2019. It uses high-res 2D and 3D imaging with machine learning to identify and adapt picks from cluttered pallets of varying box shapes and sizes.

This upgraded dexterity highlights how Stretch is designed to operate robustly across the many unpredictable objects and layouts in real-world warehouses. By flexibly handling diverse random boxes rather than just neat identical ones, it can tackle the full chaos of the job.

The Multipick technique's ability to dynamically grab one, two or more boxes as needed significantly ramps up Stretch's throughput over single-pick robots. This adaptive picking intelligence positions Stretch as an agile automation solution for the most demanding logistics environments.

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