Hyundai Motor Group has won a Product Design award at the Red Dot Design Awards for its Vest Exoskeleton (VEX) – a wearable, robotic exoskeleton.
VEX was designed in collaboration between Hyundai’s Robotics Lab and its Design Centre as an aid for its factory workers to reduce fatigue and strain during overhead labour.
The 2.8kg battery-less exoskeleton is worn like a backpack, and by way of imitating natural biomechanics of the human body can provide up to 5.5kg of upward assistance. For context, a front brake disc weighs approximately 9.5kg.
This means a VEX-equipped worker fitting the disc to a car on the production line will only have to lift 4kg – or around 42 per cent – of the part’s total weight.
Ford has also trialled an ‘EksoVest’ – a backpack-style exoskeleton – in its US factories. However, while the EksoVest can generate 6.8kgf of upward assistance (compared to the VEX’s 5.5kgf), it weighs in at 4.3kg, meaning the exoskeleton produces 158 per cent of its weight in assistance.
The VEX, although producing less upward force, generates 196% of its weight in assistance thanks to being considerably lighter.
Hyundai is also developing other ‘wearable robots’ – the Chairless Exoskeleton (CEX) and the Medical Exoskeleton (MEX).
The CEX is designed to allow wearers to maintain a sitting position without need for a chair. MEX is intended to aid in rehabilitation of workers who have suffered injury while also increasing their productivity.