Boston Dynamics Announces Stretch Robot for Warehouse Automation

Prototype is designed to make automating warehouse operations safer, more efficient, and affordable.

Boston Dynamics

Stretch is a prototype robot for moving boxes in warehouses and distribution centers.
The new Stretch movable robot arm is designed to enable warehouses and distribution centers to automate box moving without expensive infrastructure changes.

Boston Dynamics today unveiled a new robot named Stretch, which it said is designed to meet the logistics industry's need for flexible automation. The Waltham, Mass.-based company said the prototype marks its official entrance into warehouse automation, a fast-growing market driven by accelerated demand in e-commerce.

Stretch is Boston Dynamics’ first commercial robot specifically designed for warehouse facilities and distribution centers. There are more than 150,000 such facilities around the world, according to Interact Analysis. The mobile robot is designed to rapidly move boxes in a a number of tasks, starting with truck unloading and later expanding into order building.

Boston Dynamics builds Stretch for flexibility

Boston Dynamics said that Stretch technology builds on its decades of experience, particularly with its Handle robot and Pick computer vision system. The company claimed that it has created a flexible, easily-integrated system that can work in any warehouse to increase the flow of goods, improve employee safety in physically difficult tasks, and reduce fixed automation expenses.

Traditional warehouse automation approaches require either installation of fixed infrastructure or mobile robots. Such robots can convey goods, but they struggle to meet productivity requirements and justify investment by warehouse operators, said Boston Dynamics. Stretch offers logistics providers an easier path to automation by working within existing spaces and operations, without requiring costly reconfiguration or new infrastructure, it added.

Stretch’s small, omni-directional mobile base allows it to navigate loading docks, maneuver in tight spaces, and adapt to changing facility layouts, eliminating the need for costly fixed infrastructure, said Boston Dynamics. It is equipped with a custom-designed lightweight arm and a smart gripper with advanced sensing and controls that can handle a large variety of boxed and shrink-wrapped cases.

Stretch also includes Boston Dynamics’ computer vision technology, which enables it to identify boxes without extensive training for each customer. Its vision system works with pick-and-place activity, enabling high pick rates, said the company, which was acquired by Hyundai Motor Group in December 2020.

“Warehouses are struggling to meet rapidly increasing demand as the world relies more on just-in-time delivery of goods,” said Robert Playter, CEO of Boston Dynamics. “Mobile robots enable the flexible movement of materials and improve working conditions for employees. Stretch combines Boston Dynamics’ advancements in mobility, perception and manipulation to tackle the most challenging, injury-prone case-handling tasks, and we’re excited to see it put to work.”

Boston Dynamics is currently seeking customers to pilot test deployment of Stretch with truck-unloading tasks ahead of its commercial deployment in 2022. Interested parties can apply to join the Stretch Early Adopter Program by visiting

After years of trying, 60 Minutes cameras finally get a peek inside the workshop at Boston Dynamics, where robots move in ways once only thought possible in movies. Anderson Cooper reports.

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Boston Dynamics

Stretch is a prototype robot for moving boxes in warehouses and distribution centers.

Robot Technologies