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Hyundai, Boston Dynamics unveil factory safety robot

Spot, Boston Dynamics’ factory safety service robot, inspects Kia AutoLand Gwangmyeong, an automotive plant facility in Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi Province. (Hyundai Motor Group)
Spot, Boston Dynamics’ factory safety service robot, inspects Kia AutoLand Gwangmyeong, an automotive plant facility in Gwangmyeong, Gyeonggi Province. (Hyundai Motor Group)

Hyundai Motor Group has begun test operating a robot to inspect safety at its automotive plant, in collaboration with robotics startup Boston Dynamics, the group said Friday.

Hyundai Motor Group, which operates two leading automotive companies Hyundai Motor and Kia, said it has deployed Spot, Boston Dynamics’ quadruped robot, to inspect safety at Kia AutoLand Gwangmyeong, Kia’s automotive plant facility in Gyeonggi Province.

It is the first joint project between Hyundai and Boston Dynamics, after the Korean automotive group acquired 80 percent of the stocks of the US-based robotics startup.

Spot has been designed with flexible joints that allows it to move freely into narrow spaces cannot be easily accessed by humans, and on stairways.

An artificial intelligence software, dubbed the AI Processing Service Unit (AI Unit) developed by Hyundai Motor Group’s Robotics Lab, reinforces the robot’s autonomous capabilities and functions to ensure a safe working environment at factories, Hyundai explained.

The AI Unit runs on deep-learning technology and includes a three-dimensional lidar, thermal imaging camera and other various sensors, so the safety robot can navigate inside factories on its own. The robot can also be controlled manually.

The robot is also capable of checking whether an equipment is overheated or identify a door opening.

Hyundai said it will collect data from the pilot project at Gwangmyeong plant to optimize the robot’s performance and add necessary functions so it can be deployed in various industrial sites.

“The factory safety service robot is the first collaborative project with Boston Dynamics, and it will serve to help people work in safe environments,” said Hyun Dong-jin, the head of Robotics Lab at Hyundai Motor Group.

“We will continue to work with Boston Dynamics to come up with technologies and services that will support people’s safety and convenience.”

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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