Boston Dynamics, the robotics company famous for sending the internet into a frenzy over its animal and human-inspired robots, on Tuesday announced its acquisition of a 3D vision startup.
Kinema Systems is a Menlo Park-based startup which produces 3D vision software called “Pick”, which enables robotic arms to pick up and deposit pallets in warehouses.
Boston Dynamics released a video of its newly acquired “Pick” system in action, with a static robotic arm picking up a variety of differently sized boxes and placing them on a conveyer belt.
“Bringing the Kinema team into Boston Dynamics expands our perception and learning capabilities while the Pick product accelerates our entry into the logistics market. 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,” Boston Dynamics founder and CEO Marc Raibert said in a press release.
This new push towards warehouse automation seems geared towards making the company a more commercial entity. Boston Dynamics released a video last month of a mobile robot called “Handle,” which is able to pick up and move boxes in a warehouse.
While Boston Dynamics’ robots have garnered press attention in the past for their uncanny resemblances to humans and animals, the company has yet to bring any to market, focusing instead on research.
When Google sold the buzzy robotics company to Japanese tech giant SoftBank in 2017, reports emerged that it had become frustrated with how long Boston Dynamics was taking to develop a commercial product.
Raibert told TechCrunch on Tuesday that Google “planted the seed” of monetization in the company, and emphasised that the drive towards commercialisation has been “a consistent thing.”
“It’s not like we got to SoftBank and they hit us with a hammer and suddenly said ‘make products.’ They’ve been extremely enthusiastic about our R&D work, too,” he said.
Boston Dynamics is integrating the Pick system into its Handle robot, but will also sell the software to other customers. It also plans to showcase live demos of Pick later this month at Promat, a supply chain and manufacturing automation trade show.