Boston Dynamics Enters Warehouse Robots Market, Acquires Kinema Systems

IEEE Spectrum Robotics 

If you haven't seen the latest Boston Dynamics video, released last week, it shows an upgraded version of the company's Handle robot moving boxes in a warehouse. Handle is a mobile manipulator that integrates both legs and wheels, and the new version features a swinging "tail" that serves as a counterweight and allows the robot to balance and move in a dynamic fashion--just as you'd expect from the company that created such nimble machines as Atlas, Spot, and BigDog. Boston Dynamics, which SoftBank bought from Google in 2017, is showing off Handle toiling in a warehouse for a reason: The company is officially entering the logistics market, with plans to offer robots for material-handling applications. As part of that strategy, it is announcing today the acquisition of Kinema Systems, a startup based in Menlo Park, Calif., that develops vision sensors and deep-learning software to enable industrial robot arms to locate and move boxes. Boston Dynamics founder and CEO Marc Raibert says the two Handle robots seen in the video aren't moving as fast as they could, and one of the factors limiting their performance is their vision systems.