South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai has designed affordable robotic exoskeletons that boost lifting ability, help disabled people to walk again and assist elderly users with mobility.
The two wearable exosuits, namely the H-Mex for mobility assistance and the H-Wex for heavy lifting, were showcased at a private media event in Las Vegas late last month, ahead of International CES 2017.
The H-Mex is lightweight (40 lbs) and can be put on without assistance. It lets users achieve a walking speed of around 2.5 km/h and operates for approximately four hours per charge. Weighing even less at 10 lbs, the waist-mounted H-Wex is suited to those looking for more lifting power, or extra energy when performing repetitive tasks on their feet.
"From a business perspective, there's a strong alignment between making a mobility robot and automobile," Tae Won Lim, senior vice-president of central advance research and engineering, told Engadget. While the cost of the suits is yet to be confirmed, the company maintains that prices will be lower than those offered by competitors working on similar concepts.
Hyundai plans to launch demo units in 2019 and 2020 to see how disabled patients and workers in industrial sectors react to the suits.
Future applications may see the wearable robots used in factories, by the military or to help with physical rehabilitation. Additionally, they could prove popular with seniors, who want to stay independent for as long as possible. For more on the products allowing the elderly to grow old in their own homes, see Seniors Level Up.