Boson Dynamics is going to start building robots for the logistics industry, according to the company’s new CEO Robert Playter.
In an interview at Disrupt 2020, Mr Playter said that despite building many impressive robots and making them commercially available – such as its robot dog Spot - he did not know what industry the company would want to go into.
“We weren’t sure exactly what the target verticals would be,” he said, adding that 260 of the $75,000 robot dogs have been sold so far.
“As an industrial tool this is actually quite affordable. But we’ve been very aggressive, spending a lot of money to try to build an affordable way to produce this, and we’re already working on ways to continue to reduce costs.”
Mr Playter says that the consequences of the global pandemic has meant more companies are looking towards robots as an alternative or an addition to manual labour.
Boston Dynamics has apparently received requests for collaboration on remote monitoring of patients and automatic disinfection using Spot.
“We have big plans in logistics,” Mr Playter said. “we’re going to have some exciting new logistics products coming out in the next two years. We have customers now doing proof of concept tests. We’ll announce something in 2021, exactly what we’re doing, and we’ll have product available in 2022.”
Among its current array of robots includes Pick, an item-grabbing machine, and the company says it is working on a new version of its Handle robot – a small, bird-like machine which can move items into shipping containers or trucks easier than other robots.
“We’ll be offering software that lets robots work together,” he said. “Now, we don’t have to create them all. But ultimately it will take teams of robots to do some of these tasks, and we anticipate being able to work with a heterogeneous fleet.”
However, while Boston Dynamics will be putting many robots into the industry its humanoid machine, called Atlas, will not be one of them.
The company says that despite the machine’s agility, it is not yet able to be used for practical purposes; instead, the company sees it as a ‘prestige project’.
“It’s such a complex robot, and it can do so much it forces us to create tools we would not otherwise. And people love it — it’s aspirational, it attracts talent,” said Mr Playter.