R&D

Ex-Google director reveals mobile robotic gripper platform

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Former Google director of robotics Aaron Edsinger has announced the development of Stretch, a home helper robot.

Created under Edsinger’s new Hello Robot venture, Stretch adapts a number of standard robotic elements designed to offer a versatile machine that’s capable of navigating a house and getting out of the way when necessary.

According to Edsinger, Stretch is still in the early stages of development. At US$17,950, he describes it as “more of a developer platform at the moment”, but the company aims to ultimately spin it into something more commercial, with the right software.

“Subsequent editions of Stretch will likely be targeted more directly at commercial applications,” said Edsinger, “but at this point we’re focused on providing the best customer experience possible with the Research Edition.” In addition to a gripper, the robot also sports a 3D camera and range finder for navigating and an on-board computer. On the software side, it uses a combination of ROS and Python.

Stretch is an open-sourced platform, designed to help robotics develop a unique range of potentially useful tasks for the home and retail setting.

“What sets this robot apart is its extraordinary reach, which is why we named it Stretch,” said Edsinger. “Its patent-pending design makes possible a range of applications such as assisting an older parent at home, stocking grocery shelves, and wiping down potentially infectious surfaces at the workplace. We see Stretch as a game-changing platform for researchers and developers who will create this future.”

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