In June of 2020, Boston Dynamics began selling its first product trading robot: spot.
It was a big moment for the company. For most of its 30-year history, Boston Dynamics has focused on research and development. Initially, Boston Dynamics received much of its funding from the US Army and DARPA. Later, it was funded by big name owners including google browserand SoftBank and more recently Hyundai. All of these companies have tried to steer the robotics maker down the road to marketing, and Boston Dynamics has finally gotten there.
“I expect that we will become a serial producer of new robots with advanced capabilities,” says Robert. “I think we will build, every three to five years, we will roll out a new robot targeting a new industry.” Blatter, CEO of Boston Dynamics.
But for now, Boston Dynamics is focusing on the inspection and warehouse industries with its Spot and Stretch robots.
“The next big industry for Spot is really in this market that we call industrial sensing or dynamics sensing, where we have robots walking around in places like factories and chemical plants and facilities and installations and using robots to collect data about what’s happening in these facilities in an automated way,” says Zach Jakosky, Chief Engineer at Spot Product. “And that’s really interesting, because once you start getting this high-quality, repeatable data, you can start to understand these facilities and their efficiencies in new ways.”
Boston Dynamics’ Spot Dynamics robot performs a scan at a National Grid substation in Massachusetts.
So far, Spot has been used to conduct inspections at construction sites, oil rigs and nuclear plants, to check vital signs of Covid-19 patients in hospitals, and even remind people to maintain social distance amid the pandemic. Boston Dynamics said it has sold several hundred Spot robots so far, with the entry-level robot costing about $75,000.
The company’s other trading bot, Stretch, is focused on the warehouse market.
“We see Stretch as a general purpose box moving machine that can be used anywhere in the warehouse,” says Playter. “Approximately 800 million containers are shipped around the world every year. Many of them are full of crates. There are probably trillions of crates that are manually loaded and unloaded every year in the United States. It is a huge undertaking. It is a mountain of material that has to be moved. Extension is really Effective tools to help people transport that material.”
Stretching consists of several different parts. The robot uses a movable base to navigate tight spaces and climb loading ramps. The lever, handle, sight cameras, and sensors allow the robot to identify and handle a variety of different objects. Initially, the robot will be used to load and unload trucks.
Boston Dynamics says it expects the Stretch to go on sale next year, although it won’t offer a price point. Customers can also choose to purchase the computer vision software that powers Stretch, which it calls Boston Dynamics Pick. The company says it’s working with a few early adopters to test the bot, but it won’t say who those partners are.
Watch the video to learn more about Boston Dynamics’ history and the company’s plan to move from research and development to commercial marketing.