Believe it or not, this could actually benefit the auto industry.
At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Hyundai revealed something rather unusual. Instead of presenting a conventional concept car, the Korean automaker revealed, wait for it, a walking robot car concept called the Elevate.
While it looks like it belongs in a science fiction movie, it serves a practical purpose as it's designed to be driven by emergency responders in natural disaster situations to rescue survivors. Continuing the robotic technology theme, Hyundai has revealed a wearable robot designed to solve an everyday problem.
It's called the Vest EXoskeleton (VEX), and it's designed to assist industrial workers who spend long hours working in overhead environments bolting the underside of vehicles, fitting brake tubes, and attaching exhausts, for example. Hyundai claims the VEX enhances productivity and reduces fatigue by "imitating the movement of human joints to boost load support and mobility." The wearable vest features a polycentric axis that combines multiple pivot points with multi-link muscular assistance to function, eliminating the need for a battery.
Weighing 5.5 pounds, Hyundai claims the VEX is 22-42 percent lighter than competing products. Worn like a backpack, the user places their arms through the shoulder straps of the vest, before fastening the chest and waist buckles. The length of the back section is adjustable by up to seven inches to fit a variety of body sizes, and the degree of force assistance can be adjusted over six levels up to as much as 5.5 kg.
The VEX has already been trialed in two Hyundai Motor Group plants in the US, which Hyundai says successfully boosted productivity. Following its success, Hyundai is considering implementing the VEX in plants around the world. Commercial production is expected to begin in December by Hyundai Rotem and is projected to cost 30 percent less than the $5,000 that existing products usually cost.