Hyundai’s New Take on Mobility: the Exoskeleton
Last year, at IROS 2016 (IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems) – an international conference on robotics – Dr. Lim Tae-won from Hyundai gave a talk on “Technology Innovations for mobility freedom.” Dr. Lim’s descriptions of Hyundai’s “innovations for mobility freedom” naturally included the company’s vision of fully green, intelligent, autonomous vehicles.
Yet, the most intriguing innovation to emerge from the company has nothing to do with cars.
In what appears to be counterintuitive move, Hyundai has recently turned its sights to providing mobility to those who normally wouldn’t be able to reach their car door, let alone drive it.This appears to be a well-intentioned and well thought out move, though, as, according to Hyundai, what’s the point of an autonomous vehicle, if a person can’t get to his car?
At the recent CES(Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas, Hyundai showcased their latest brainchild, their Iron Man-esque suits.
Hyunda’s exoskeleton “series” are in essence robotic suits, designed to be strapped onto the body as a full body suit or half, depending on its purpose. In general, the suits were designed for paraplegics to regain “full-spectrum” mobility, even for those with zero mobility. However, variations on this suit allow the elderly to recover their mobility; or for military personnel to exploit “load-carrying capability augmentation.”
Given Korea’s rapidly aging population, the exoskeleton could potentially vastly improve the quality of life of millions in the future.
Another variation of the suit could help industrial workers augment their own strength and/or prevent spinal injuries – a class of injuries that is growing due to the increasing volume of drivers (leading to more accidents) on the road.
A perfect example of how cutting edge technology can solve real problems in society, this robotic technology isn’t simply a companion or maid, butcould possibly be a necessity upon which the quality of life of millions depends.
If Hyundai has its way, their exoskeleton would enable even a paraplegic to walk over to her vehicle, and enter it, after which the Hyundai autonomous vehicle would take over. For those that are bed or house-ridden, truly, that would achieve complete freedom of mobility.