Early in 2016, news trickled out of Hyundai that the company was working on an Iron Man–like robotic human exoskeleton. We were intrigued, but information at the time was limited, and Hyundai didn’t share much beyond some images and the simple fact that it was working on the technology. Now at the 2017 CES, Hyundai has debuted a trio of more developed exoskeleton concepts with applications ranging from helping paraplegics walk to providing muscular support to those with weaker legs or backs.
Самый популярный костюм Hyundai Iron Man — это HUMA (Hyundai Universal Medical Assist), который механически помогает каждой конечности, чтобы помочь тем, у кого слабые мышцы или другие проблемы с подвижностью, ускорить их движения. Помимо способности физически поддерживать вес пользователя до 88 фунтов, HUMA также может помочь полностью мобильным людям поднимать более тяжелые предметы или бегать со скоростью до 7.5 миль в час. Hyundai услужливо указывает, что такие возможности могут сделать HUMA привлекательным для военных или отраслей, которые могут использовать сверхчеловеческую силу и мобильность.
For the other two suits, Hyundai homed in on specific medical needs. The H-Mex (Hyundai Medical Exoskeleton), for example, is designed to give those with lower-spinal-cord injuries the ability to move on their own again. The mechanical leg assistants can help a paraplegic user stand up, walk around, climb stairs, or sit down. The H-Wex (Hyundai Waist Exoskeleton) is another wearable. As its name implies, H-Wex works largely on stabilizing the legs, hips, and back for waist-based motions such as repeatedly bending over or lifting an object.
HUMA and H-Mex can be adjusted to fit different users by extending or retracting the limb-tracing appendages, and both feature removable battery packs. So how do they help humans walk? According to Hyundai, H-Mex “provides individually tailored gait-pattern adjustment by calculating a series of factors, including walking pace, length of stride, and torso tilting angle via an application program installed in a smart device.” Meanwhile, HUMA’s various joints are said to coordinate their movements with those of the user via a vast sensor array that tries to predict a user’s motion in real time. H-Wex seems to require less power than either HUMA or H-Mex, as it merely controls the user’s bending motion to ensure nothing gets tweaked, and Hyundai says it is more of a safety device than anything else.
So what does the future hold for these robotic aids? Hyundai isn’t saying for now, but keep in mind that the automaker’s parent company by the same name has long dabbled in industrial equipment such as trucks, forklifts, earthmovers, and generators. We think an expansion into what amount to medical and industrial devices that serve a good purpose wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.