LG Electronics said Thursday that it would unveil its first wearable robot in Berlin later this month at a global home appliance trade show. This will make the South Korean tech giant the latest player in the increasingly competitive robot business.
At IFA Berlin 2018, which kicks off Aug. 30, LG will officially introduce the CLOi SuitBot, a robot designed to compensate for humans’ limited muscle strength in a variety of situations. The company says it will have medical and industrial applications.
The wearable robot is the eighth to join LG’s robot portfolio, which also includes the guidance robot at Incheon Airport.
Putting the CLOi SuitBot on over a pair of pants can help wearers carry things that they otherwise would not be strong enough to lift, the company said.
The robot can also assist people with physical disabilities or people recovering from leg injuries and undergoing physiotherapy to learn to walk again, it added.
Robot manufacturers outside Korea are also developing wearable robots that enhance lower body strength, but these robots are mainly designed for military use.
An employee wearing a CLOi SuitBot unloads boxes at a factory. (LG Electronics)
CLOi is LG’s artificial intelligence platform for eight robots so far: cleaning robots, lawn-mowing robots, robots that guide people, household robots, food-service robots, porter robots and robotic shopping carts.
When someone puts on a CLOi SuitBot, the AI platform learns the wearer’s movements, assesses the surrounding conditions, and protects the person from harm while he or she is in action, according to the company.
LG, one of the world’s leading home electronics manufacturers, is looking to the robot business as a future growth engine and is increasing investment accordingly.
LG Vice Chairman Jo Seong-jin said at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, “The robot business will start yielding profits for the company within two to three years.”
To develop the wearable robot, LG has worked with local robot developer SG Robotics since making an investment last year.
This year, the conglomerate has continued to invest in robot makers at home and abroad. They are Robotis, Acryl, Robostar and BossaNova Robotics.
A model tries on a CLOi SuitBot. (LG Electronics)
LG also intends to accelerate its foray into the new business area later this year with the launch of commercial household robots.
“Mainly with the CLOi SuitBot, some new robots could be unveiled at IFA,” said an LG official. “A commercialization plan for the wearable robot is not confirmed yet, while household robots are expected to hit the market within the year.”
Ryu Hye-jung, senior vice president of LG’s home appliances and air solutions division, said, “LG will continue developing and introducing various kinds of robots that support humans and ease their difficulties.”
By Song Su-hyun (email@example.com