Hyundai Motor Group is actively developing wearable industrial robots to be used at its plants, while at the same time stepping up efforts to jump into the robotic business by developing commercial robots.
Hyundai Motor Group announced in September that it would apply “H-CEX,” a chair-type wearable robot, to Hyundai and Kia factories in North America and that it will roll off “H-VEX,” a robot for workers who have to work with their body bent backward, toward the end of this year.
According to the group, the chair-type robot is a knee joint aid system that allows workers to stay seated for a long time and is durable enough to support up to 150 kilograms of weight.
According to Hyundai Motor Group's research, using a chair-type robot reduces the muscle activity of the waist and lower body by about 80 percent, which greatly improves worker performance.
H-VEX is a system that assists workers who have to work with their arms raised and their body bent backward.
The new robot will have excellent effects in terms of prevention of musculoskeletal disorders and efficiency of work by adding up to 60kg of force when workers raise their arms.
In addition to these wearable industrial robots, Hyundai Motor Group is developing diverse forms of robots that are highly utilized, such as service robots and micro mobility.
First of all, H-MEX, which was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show last year, is a robot that can help elderly people who are not comfortable with walking or climbing stairs. The group is making preparations to win approval from the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
HUMA, a robot that increases a wearer’s muscle strength while walking when they wear it on their waist and legs, is considered one of the fastest wearable robots in the world as it runs at a speed of 12 kilometers per hour.
The group is also developing a hotel service robot, which is designed to carry out room services and guides customers to elevators and rooms. It plans to test-run the robot at the Haevichi Hotel & Resorts and Rolling Hills starting from the end of this year.
“Sales Services Robot” is currently being developed to carry out the task of providing vehicle information directly to customers at the sales booth. It will be equipped with a natural language conversation system, artificial intelligence, and mobility functions. The group plans to produce prototypes early next year.
The group is also working on “electric vehicle charging manipulator,” a robot similar to a human arm that charges electric cars automatically when they stand in front of chargers. Prototypes will be developed by 2020.
Robotic personal mobility is a new concept of single-person mobile platform. It moves around slowly indoors based on two wheels to avoid obstacles and people, and then transforms into three wheels for more stable movement outside.
Hyundai Motor Group is making bold investments to develop new businesses in the robotics sector and is actively pursuing strategic alliances with promising companies at home and abroad that possess robotics and artificial intelligence technologies.
Most recently, it has made strategic investments in U.S.-based artificial intelligence startups called Personal Automata and is working together to secure technologies for predicting human behavior that will be used in robots.
It is also working with Deep Glint, a Chinese startup with the best technology in the field of artificial intelligence based on vision technology, and has set up a $45 million AI Alliance Fund together with SK Telecom and Hanwha Asset Management, to investment in promising AI startups.
The global robotics market is growing rapidly. According to a U.S. market research agency called BIS, the global wearable robot market is expected to grow from US$96 million in 2016 to US$4.65 billion in 2026.