Hyundai is augmenting American employees with robotic exoskeletons

Wearable exoskeletons

Robots aren't about to take over the workplace, but that doesn't mean they can't lend us a hand. Hyundai is introducing wearable robotic exoskeletons to take the load off employees.

Kia Motors (which is owned by Hyundai) demonstrated the Hyundai Chairless Exoskeleton (H-CEX) at its North American factory last August. The device, which straps to the wearer's waist, thighs and knees, enables them to sit and work comfortably without a chair or stool, protecting their joints. It weighs just 1.6kg, but is tough enough to withstand everyday knocks and wear in a busy plant.

Now, the company is introducing a successor, the Hyundai Vest Exoskeleton (H-VEX), which it's planning to bring to the US by the end of the year. H-VEX relieves pressure on workers' heads and backs by adding an extra 60kg of strength when they're using their arms overhead.

Beyond the factory

Although it's starting by augmenting its own employees, the company is also developing wearable bots for use in the health sector. The Hyundai Medical Exoskeleton (H-MEX) is intended to help elderly people and those with paralysis walk and use stairs independently, and the Hyundai Universal Medical Assistant (HUMA) adds extra strength when walking and has a maximum running speed of 7.5mph.

“The field of robotics has the potential to usher in a new era in our industry," said Dr Youngcho Chi, executive vice president of strategy and technology division, and chief innovation officer of Hyundai Motor Group.

"The possibilities for the technology are endless – from future mobility solutions and industrial productivity aids to vital military applications, we think the future is better with robots. The huge collective experience within the Hyundai Motor Group will facilitate rapid progress in the coming years. We are excited about current developments, and very optimistic for the use of this technology to improve lives around the globe."

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)