Video of the week: Handle gets to grips with warehouse box job

This week’s video comes from the US where Boston Dynamics has put its Handle robot to work in a warehouse.

Like any new employee, Handle was made familiar with the pallets (via initialisation and localisation) before it set about autonomously performing multi-SKU palletising and depalletising, plus conveyor tasks.

According to Boston Dynamics, Handle’s on-board vision system helps it track marked pallets for navigation and finds individual boxes for grasping and placing. Force control makes sure that boxes are flush against each other.

The company add that Handle can handle boxes up 15kg, although the ones in the video weigh approximately 5kg.

Although impressive, Handle is a work in progress. Boston Dynamics can, however, offer robotic solutions to the logistics industry following the acquisition of Kinema Systems, a Menlo Park, California-based company that ‘enables industrial robotic arms with deep learning technology to locate and move boxes on complex pallets.’

Handle (Image: Boston Dynamics)

Kinema Systems has developed Pick, which they say is the world’s first deep-learning 3D vision system for industrial robots. Pick technology works with leading commercial robotic arms to move boxes off pallets to conveyors or build stacks of boxes on pallets.

“Bringing the Kinema team into Boston Dynamics expands our perception and learning capabilities while the Pick product accelerates our entry into the logistics market,” said Boston Dynamics Founder and CEO Marc Raibert. “Beyond being a powerful tool for industrial robotic arms, Kinema technology will help our mobile manipulation robots tackle a wide variety of complex real-world tasks.”