Labor shortages prompt DHL and Boston Dynamics to rely on robots for help

·Anchor
·2 min read

DHL North America plans to add hundreds of robots to its workforce.

The robot, called Stretch, was developed by Boston Dynamics for warehouse operations in direct response to labor shortages and increasing logistics volume. A $15 million investment and multi-year agreement between DHL North America and Boston Dynamics will begin with roughly 30 Stretch robots.

“Our strategy is to reduce our dependency on labor, which is hard to find in the market currently, and improve the type of positions in the facilities so workers have less travel and more rewarding work” Sally Miller, DHL North America supply chain chief information officer, told Yahoo Finance.

Stretch isn’t the lone robot in the U.S. workforce.

Boston Dynamics introduces Stretch
Boston Dynamics introduces Stretch. Credit: Boston Dynamics

Labor shortages have prompted a cobot strategy where humans engage directly with robots for manual-intensive positions.

At Amazon, fulfillment center robots are known as Bert and Ernie, while at White Castle robots like Flippy by Miso Robotics and R2 by Nuro are fulfilling your orders of French Fries.

Following an 18-month pilot period of different versions of the semi-autonomous unit, DHL maintains that robots fill gaps in manual operations, rather than replace jobs occupied by an existing staff member.

DHL North America also recorded a slightly lower level of turnover in sites where the cobot strategy has been initiated.

“I think we're going to see a steady growth of robots, but they're going to be robots that work with people and for people” said Kevin Blankespoor, Boston Dynamics' senior vice president and warehouse robotics general manager.

Stretch is the distant relative of the viral sensation dancing robots named Spot and Atlas — also developed by Boston Dynamics.

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Brad Smith is an anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @thebradsmith.

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