Boston Dynamics' acquisition will help its robots see in 3D

Its robots might find work in factories sooner rather than later.

While Boston Dynamics' robots make for fascinating -- sometimes disturbing -- internet videos, they haven't quite crossed into everyday life. That could change sooner rather than later. Boston Dynamics took a big step toward bringing its box-moving (and running, jumping, dishwashing) robots into the real world with its acquisition of Kinema Systems.

Kinema is a Menlo Park-based company that uses deep learning to give robotic arms the 3D vision they need to locate and move boxes. It can recognize different products and handle boxes of different sizes, even if they're not perfectly level. With this purchase, Boston Dynamics now has the software it needs to make its bots practical outside of the lab, meaning we could see them in the warehouse before too long. First, it will integrate Pick into Handle, the robot we saw autonomously moving boxes in a warehouse last week.

The tool is agnostic, though, so we could see it in Boston Dynamic's other robots. And while the company perfects Handle, it will sell the technology, as the Boston Dynamics Pick System, to third parties immediately. There's no word on when the company will start selling Handle to manufacturers, but this acquisition should bring that date much closer.

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