Stretch®

DHL Supply Chain to Invest $15 million to automate warehousing via Boston Dynamics.

  • DHL is the first commercial customer for Boston Dynamics’ Stretch® robot
  • Multi-year agreement furthers DHL’s commitment to accelerating digitalization of the end-to-end supply chain

WESTERVILLE, OH (January 26, 2022) – DHL Supply Chain, the global and North American contract logistics leader within Deutsche Post DHL Group, announced today a $15 million investment in robotics solutions from Boston Dynamics, the global leader in mobile robots, to help further automate warehouses in the United States. The firms have agreed to a multi-year deal that will begin with Boston Dynamics installing Stretch, the company’s newest robot designed to streamline the unloading process in distribution centers.

This partnership is the result of the two firms’ strategic engagement over the last three years as Stretch was developed and tested. Over the next three years, Boston Dynamics will send a fleet of Stretch robots to numerous DHL warehouses across North America. Stretch, which was revealed in 2021, has made its first commercial purchase with DHL.

DHL Supply Chain’s Accelerated Digitalization agenda, a strategy for creating and deploying innovative solutions and new technology, includes the investment. Stretch will work in the warehouse on a variety of box-moving tasks, starting with truck unloading at select DHL locations. The multi-purpose mobile robot will do additional duties to support other aspects of the warehouse workflow after the initial deployment, effectively automating warehouse operations.

“At DHL Supply Chain, we are committed to continuous innovation and digital transformation to optimize the end-to-end supply chain. Investing in warehouse automation plays an important role in increasing operational efficiency and improving service for our customers,” said Sally Miller, CIO, DHL Supply Chain North America. “We’re excited to partner with Boston Dynamics to deploy its best-in-class robotics in our warehouses. The Stretch robot addresses complex industry challenges through flexible automation, which we’ll be able to replicate and scale regionally and globally.”

Stretch’s technology leverages Boston Dynamics’ decades of robotics developments to produce a flexible, readily integrated system that can function in any warehouse to improve associate safety and increase the flow of goods by taking over physically hard activities. Stretch has a small, omnidirectional mobile base, a custom-designed lightweight arm, and a smart gripper with advanced sensing and controls that can handle a wide range of box kinds and sizes. It also contains Boston Dynamics’ computer vision technology, which allows it to quickly and accurately recognize boxes without the need for pre-programming. Stretch is capable of navigating complicated scenarios such as disorganized stacking configurations and recovering fallen boxes on its own.

“Stretch is Boston Dynamics’ newest robot, designed specifically to remedy challenges within the warehouse space,” said Robert Playter, Boston Dynamics’ CEO. “We are thrilled to be working with DHL Supply Chain to deliver a fleet of robots that will further automate warehousing and improve safety for its associates. We believe Stretch can make a measurable impact on DHL’s business operations, and we’re excited to see the robot in action at scale.”

Deployment of the first Stretch units in DHL warehouses will begin this spring, and DHL plans to gradually scale Boston Dynamics’ robots for additional tasks and across multiple facilities in phases over the next few years. 

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