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Boston Dynamics Unveils New Robot for Warehouse Automation

Stretch is designed to make warehouse operations safer and more efficient

Waltham, MA – March 29, 2021 – Boston Dynamics, the global leader in mobile robotics, has revealed Stretch, its new box-moving robot designed to support the growing demand for flexible automation solutions in the logistics industry. This debut marks the company’s official entrance into warehouse automation, a fast-growing market fueled by increased demand in e-commerce.



Stretch is Boston Dynamics’ first commercial robot specifically designed for warehouse facilities and distribution centers, of which there are more than 150,000 globally, according to analysts. The multi-purpose mobile robot is designed to tackle a number of tasks where rapid box moving is required, first starting with truck unloading and later expanding into order building. Stretch’s technology builds upon Boston Dynamics’ decades of advancements in robotics to create a flexible, easily-integrated solution that can work in any warehouse to increase their flow of goods, improve employee safety in physically difficult tasks and lower expensive fixed automation costs.



The robot’s small, omni-directional mobile base allows Stretch to navigate loading docks, maneuver in tight spaces and adapt to changing facility layouts, eliminating the need for costly fixed automation infrastructure. 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 that enables it to identify boxes easily and without extensive training for each customer. Its vision system works in tandem with pick & place activity, enabling high pick rates.



Traditional warehouse automation approaches require either installation of fixed infrastructure or mobile robots that convey goods but struggle to meet productivity requirements to be an attractive investment for warehouse operators. Stretch offers logistics providers an easier path to automation by working within existing warehouse spaces and operations, without requiring costly reconfiguration or investments in new fixed infrastructure.



“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: https://www.bostondynamics.com/stretch



About Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamics is the global leader in developing and deploying highly mobile robots capable of tackling the toughest robotics challenges. Our core mission is to lead the creation and delivery of robots with advanced mobility, dexterity, and intelligence that add value in unstructured or hard-to-traverse spaces and positively impact society. We create high-performance robots equipped with perception, navigation and intelligence by combining the principles of dynamic control with sophisticated mechanical designs, cutting-edge electronics, and next-generation software. We have three mobile robots in our portfolio – Spot®, Stretch™ and Atlas® – as well as Pick™, a machine learning vision solution for warehouse automation. Founded in 1992, Boston Dynamics spun out of the MIT Leg Lab and is one of Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces of 2020. For more information on our company and its technologies, please visit www.bostondynamics.com.

Boston Dynamics expands Spot® product line

NEW SELF-CHARGING ENTERPRISE ROBOT, REMOTE OPERATION SOFTWARE, AND ROBOT ARM ENHANCE SPOT’S CAPABILITIES FOR AUTONOMOUS SITE MONITORING


Waltham, MA – February 2, 2021 – Boston Dynamics, the global leader in mobile robotics, today announced an expanded product line for its agile mobile robot Spot. The new products include a self-charging Enterprise Spot, web-based remote operations software, Scout, and the Spot Arm. These additions extend Spot’s ability to perform autonomous, remote inspections and data collection, and enable the robot to perform manual tasks.

With more than 400 Spots out in the world, the robot has successfully undertaken hazardous tasks in a variety of inhospitable environments such as nuclear plants, offshore oil fields, construction sites, and mines. Customers have leveraged Spot’s advanced mobility, autonomy, control, and customizability to improve operational efficiency, enhance worker safety, and gather critical data. Spot’s new products are designed to enable customers to fully operationalize continuous, autonomous data collection on remote or hazardous worksites of any size, from anywhere they have access to their network.

Autonomy is critical to enhancing Spot’s value. In order to support long, remote deployments, Boston Dynamics is introducing Spot Enterprise, a new version of Spot that comes equipped with self-charging capabilities and a dock, allowing it to perform longer inspection tasks and data collection missions with little to no human interaction. In addition to the basic capabilities that the base Spot robot offers, Spot Enterprise leverages upgraded hardware for improved safety, communications, and behavior in remote environments. These upgrades expand the range that autonomous missions can cover, extend WiFi support, add flexibility to Spot’s payload ports, and enable users to quickly offload large data sets collected during the robot’s mission.

Pivotal to refining Spot’s value at scale is remote operation. Scout is Boston Dynamics’ web-based software that enables operators to control their fleet of Spots from a virtual control room. Operators can use Scout to take Spot anywhere a person could go on-site, allowing them to inspect critical equipment or hazardous areas from afar. The software is designed with a simple user interface to run pre-programmed autonomous missions or manually control the robot, to perform various tasks such as walking or posing the robot to capture images and thermal data of obscured gauges or pipes using the Spot CAM+IR thermal imaging payload.

Combined, the Spot Enterprise robot equipped with a Spot CAM+IR thermal imaging payload, Scout software, and Boston Dynamics’ premium support now create an out-of-the-box solution for asset-intensive environments. Operators can deploy this solution on site to proactively maintain and manage assets while maximizing worker uptime and improving worker safety.

In addition to launching products designed to make remote inspection safer and easier, Boston Dynamics is also releasing the Spot Arm, which enables users to act on data insights and perform physical work in human-centric environments. The arm is equipped to operate through both semi-autonomous actions and telemanipulation. It can manually or semi-autonomously grasp, lift, carry, place, and drag a wide variety of objects. It is also capable of manipulating objects with constrained movement and can open and close valves, pull levers and turn handles and knobs in coordination with its body to open standard push and pull doors.

“Since first launching Spot, we have worked closely with our customers to identify how the robot could best support their mission critical applications,” said Robert Playter, CEO of Boston Dynamics. “Our customers want reliable data collection in remote, hazardous, and dynamic worksites. We developed the new Spot products with these needs in mind, and with the goal of making it easy to regularly and remotely perform critical inspections, improving safety and operations.”

Interested parties can purchase Spot Enterprise, Scout, and the Spot Arm via Boston Dynamics’ sales team. For more information on these new offerings, please visit: www.bostondynamics.com.



About Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamics is the global leader in developing and deploying highly mobile robots capable of tackling the toughest robotics challenges. Our core mission is to lead the creation and delivery of robots with advanced mobility, dexterity and intelligence that add value in unstructured or hard-to-traverse spaces and positively impact society. We create high-performance robots equipped with perception, navigation and intelligence by combining the principles of dynamic control and balance with sophisticated mechanical designs, cutting-edge electronics and next-generation software. We have three mobile robots in our portfolio – Spot®, Handle™ and Atlas® – as well as Pick™, a computer vision-based robotics solution for logistics. Founded in 1992, Boston Dynamics spun out of the MIT Leg Lab and is one of Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces of 2020. For more information on our company and its technologies, please visit www.bostondynamics.comhttp://www.bostondynamics.com.

Robot Race: The World´s Top 10 automated countries

Jan 27, 2021 — The average robot density in the manufacturing industry hit a new global record of 113 units per 10,000 employees. By regions, Western Europe (225 units) and the Nordic European countries (204 units) have the most automated production, followed by North America (153 units) and South East Asia (119 units).

The world´s top 10 most automated countries are: Singapore (1), South Korea (2), Japan (3), Germany (4), Sweden (5), Denmark (6), Hong Kong (7), Chinese Taipei (8), USA (9) and Belgium and Luxemburg (10). This is according to the latest World Robotics statistics, issued by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).

“Robot density is the number of operational industrial robots relative to the number of workers,” says Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “This level measurement allows comparisons of countries with different economic sizes in the dynamic automation race over time.”

The country with the highest robot density by far remains Singapore with 918 units per 10,000 employees in 2019. The electronics industry, especially semiconductors and computer peripherals, is the primary customer of industrial robots in Singapore with shares of 75% of the total operational stock.

South Korea comes second with 868 units per 10,000 employees in 2019. Korea is a market leader in LCD and memory chip manufacturing with companies such as Samsung and LG on top and also a major production site for motor vehicles and the manufacturing of batteries for electric cars.

Japan (364 robots per 10,000 employees) and Germany (346 units), rank third and fourth respectively. Japan is the world´s predominant robot manufacturing country – where even robots assemble robots: 47% of the global robot production are made in Nippon. The electrical and electronics industry has a share of 34%, the automotive industry 32%, and the metal and machinery industry 13% of the operational stock. Germany is by far the largest robot market in Europe with 38% of Europe’s industrial robots operating in factories here. Robot density in the German automotive industry is among the highest in the world. Employment in this sector rose continuously from 720,000 people in 2010 to almost 850,000 people in 2019.

Sweden remains in 5th position with a robot density of 274 units operating with a share of 35% in the metal industry and another 35% in the automotive industry.

Robot density in the United States increased to 228 robots. In 2019, the US car market was again the second largest car market in the world, following China, with the second largest production volume of cars and light vehicles. Both USA and China are considered highly competitive markets for car manufacturers worldwide.

The development of robot density in China continues dynamically: Today, China’s robot density in the manufacturing industry ranks 15th worldwide. Next to car production, China is also a major producer of electronic devices, batteries, semiconductors, and microchips.

e-spool flex für eine unterbrechungsfreie Panel-Zuführung an Industrierobotern

Robotik-Dienstleister ARAGON Industrieelektronik GmbH verwendet einen neuen schleifringfreien Kabelabroller von igus



Köln, 6. Januar 2021 – Sie sind die Schaltzentrale für den Roboter: Bedienpanels. Damit sie flexibel eingesetzt werden können, muss ihre Leitung nicht nur einige Meter lang, sondern auch beweglich und sicher verstaut sein. Hierfür hat igus die e-spool flex entwickelt. Die neue igus Kabeltrommel kommt ohne Schleifring aus und kann so selbst Bus-Signale unterbrechungsfrei führen. Die Leitung lässt sich auch einfach nachträglich in das System einsetzen. Vorteile, die den Robotik-Dienstleister ARAGON überzeugt haben. Er bietet als Service für seine Industrieroboter ein Kabel-Komplettset an, bestehend aus e-spool flex mit einer Standardleitung sowie einer vormontierten Panelhalterung.



Alten Robotern neues Leben einhauchen, das ist die Aufgabe der ARAGON Industrieelektronik GmbH. Der führende Anbieter für Industrierobotik bietet weltweit Lösungen rund um die Reparatur, Wartung, den Retrofit und das Tuning von Industrierobotern an. Die Kunden finden sich in kleineren Betrieben, die bis zu 10 Robotersysteme einsetzen. Aber auch größere Unternehmen und OEMs im Bereich Automotive setzen auf die Expertise des Robotik-Spezialisten. Speziell für den Einsatz an Bedienpanels suchte das Unternehmen nach einer praktischen Lösung für die Leitungen: „Wir sind stets bestrebt, die Sicherheit unserer Kunden durch innovative Lösungen zu gewährleisten. Bisher lag das Kabel immer auf dem Boden, wurde schnell beschädigt und stellte eine Stolperfalle dar. Daher waren wir auf der Suche nach einem Kabelaufroller, der unterbrechungsfrei, einfach und schnell nachrüstbar ist“, erklärt Iryna Geike, Global Country Manager bei ARAGON. Fündig wurde das Unternehmen bei igus. „Uns wurde das neue Kabelaufrollsystem e-spool flex vorgestellt und es hat uns direkt überzeugt“, erinnert sich Iryna Geike. Der wesentliche Vorteil der e-spool flex gegenüber anderen Kabelwicklern liegt darin, dass kein Schleifring zum Einsatz kommt. So können auch Medien, Daten und die Strom- und Signalversorgung des Not-Aus-Tasters in das System integriert werden. Bereits bestehende Panelleitungen lassen sich einfach in die Schneckenführung des Systems einlegen und werden automatisch aufgerollt. „Unsere Kunden erhalten nun für ihre Bedienpanels ein vormontiertes Set bestehend aus e-spool flex, ARAGON Panelhalterung, Leitung und einem Bügel zur Befestigung an den Roboterschaltschränken. Mit der e-spool flex verlängern wir die Lebensdauer der eingesetzten Leitung deutlich und sorgen für mehr Sicherheit und Ordnung an den Bedienpanels“, erklärt Iryna Geike.



Kabel auf- und abrollen: automatisch oder von Hand

Die e-spool flex bietet igus in mehreren Varianten an. Als Low-Cost-Version mit einem Handdreher oder einem Akkuschrauber zum Aufwickeln der Leitung, als automatische Lösung mit einem federgetriebenen Rückholmechanismus und einer Rastfunktion sowie optional mit einer Einlaufbremse. ARAGON entschied sich für die Variante mit einer Rückholfeder. Der Kabelroller ist in drei Größen erhältlich, für Leitungen mit einem Durchmesser von 5 bis 15 Millimetern mit einer Auszugslänge von 5 bis 15 Metern. Sie lassen sich jederzeit schnell tauschen. Neben einer nachträglichen Integration der e-spool flex mit einem bestehenden Kabel, bietet igus die Kabeltrommel auch bereits fertig konfektioniert mit speziell für den bewegten Einsatz ausgelegten chainflex Leitungen an. Die Langlebigkeit der Leitungen in der e-spool flex wird derzeit im hauseigenen 3.800 Quadratmeter großen Testlabor ausgiebig untersucht.

Record 2.7 Million Robots Work in Factories Around the Globe

IFR presents World Robotics 2020 – #WorldRobotics2020

Frankfurt, Sep 24, 2020 — The new World Robotics 2020 Industrial Robots report shows a record of 2.7 million industrial robots operating in factories around the world – an increase of 12%. Sales of new robots remain on a high level with 373,000 units shipped globally in 2019. This is 12% less compared to 2018, but still the 3rd highest sales volume ever recorded.

“The stock of industrial robots operating in factories around the world today marks the highest level in history,” says Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics. “Driven by the success story of smart production and automation this is a worldwide increase of about 85% within five years (2014-2019). The recent slowdown in sales by 12% reflects the difficult times the two main customer industries, automotive and electrical/electronics, have experienced.”

“In addition to that, the consequences from the coronavirus pandemic for the global economy cannot be fully assessed yet,” proceeds Milton Guerry. “The remaining months of 2020 will be shaped by adaption to the ´new normal´. Robot suppliers adjust to the demand for new applications and developing solutions. A major stimulus from large-scale orders is unlikely this year. China might be an exception, because the coronavirus was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019 and the country already started its recovery in the second quarter. Other economies report to be at the turning point right now. But it will take a few months until this translates into automation projects and robot demand. 2021 will see recovery, but it may take until 2022 or 2023 to reach the pre-crisis level.”

Asia, Europe and the Americas – overview

Asia remains the strongest market for industrial robots – operational stock for the region´s largest adopter China rose by 21% and reached about 783,000 units in 2019. Japan ranks second with about 355,000 units – plus 12 %. A runner-up is India with a new record of about 26,300 units – plus 15%. Within five years, India has doubled the number of industrial robots operating in the country´s factories.

The share of newly installed robots in Asia was about two thirds of global supply. Sales of almost 140,500 new robots in China is below the record years of 2018 and 2017 but still more than double the numbers sold five years ago (2014: 57,000 units). Installations of top Asian markets slowed down – in China (minus 9%) and Japan (minus 10%).

Annual installations of industrial robots TOP 15 countries © World Robotics 2020 Report

In China, the broad majority of 71% of new robots was shipped in from foreign suppliers. Chinese manufacturers still mainly cater to the domestic market, where they gain increasing market shares. Foreign suppliers deliver some 29% of their units to the automotive industry, while it is only around 12% for Chinese suppliers. Therefore, foreign suppliers are more affected by the decline of business in the Chinese automotive industry than the domestic suppliers.

Europe

Europe reached an operational stock of 580,000 units in 2019 – plus 7%. Germany remains the main user with an operational stock of about 221,500 units – this is about three times the stock of Italy (74,400 units), five times the stock of France (42,000 units) and about ten times the stock of the UK (21,700 units).

Robot sales show a differentiated picture for the largest markets within the European Union: About 20,500 robots were installed in Germany. This is below the record year 2018 (minus 23%) but on the same level as 2014-2016. Sales in France (+15%), Italy (+13%) and the Netherlands (+8%) went up. Robotics in the United Kingdom remains on a low level – new installations slowed down by 16%. The newly installed 2,000 units in the UK are about ten times less than the shipments in Germany (20,500 units), about five times less than in Italy (11,100 units) and about three times less than in France (6,700 units).

Americas

The USA is the largest industrial robot user in the Americas, reaching a new operational stock record of about 293.200 units – up 7%. Mexico comes second with 40,300 units, which is a plus of 11% followed by Canada with about 28,600 units – plus 2%.

New installations in the United States slowed down by 17% in 2019 compared to the record year of 2018. Although, with 33,300 shipped units, sales remain on a very high level representing the second strongest result of all time. Most of the robots in the USA are imported from Japan and Europe. Although, there are not many North American robot manufacturers, there are numerous important robot system integrators. Mexico ranks second in North America with almost 4,600 units – a slowdown of 20%. Sales in Canada are 1% up to a new record of about 3,600 shipped units.

South America´s number one operational stock is in Brazil with almost 15,300 units – plus 8%. Sales slowed down by 17% with about 1,800 installations – still one of the best results ever – only beaten by record shipments in 2018.

Worldwide trend in human-robot collaboration

The adoption of human-robot collaboration is on the rise. We saw cobot installations grew by 11%. This dynamic sales performance was in contrast to the overall trend with traditional industrial robots in 2019. As more and more suppliers offer collaborative robots and the range of applications becomes bigger, the market share reached 4.8% of the total of 373,000 industrial robots installed in 2019. Although this market is growing rapidly, it is still in its infancy.

Collaborative and traditional industrial robots © IFR International Federation of Robotics

Outlook

Globally, COVID-19 has a strong impact on 2020 – but also offers a chance for modernization and digitalization of production on the way to recovery. In the long run, the benefits of increasing robot installations remain the same: Rapid production and delivery of customized products at competitive prices are the main incentives. Automation enables manufacturers to keep production in developed economies – or reshore it – without sacrificing cost efficiency. The range of industrial robots continues to expand – from traditional caged robots capable of handling all payloads quickly and precisely to new collaborative robots that work safely alongside humans, fully integrated into workbenches.

Orders

Orders for World Robotics 2020 Industrial Robots and Service Robots reports can be placed online and grant immediate access to the 2019 figures.