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[CES 2022] Hyundai Motor vows to expand human reach with robots, metaverse
Plans to team up with Microsoft for metaverse smart factoriesBy Hong Yoo
Published : Jan. 5, 2022 - 17:06
LAS VEGAS -- Laying out the groundwork for its future with robotics technology and the metaverse, the chairman of South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor Group unveiled a new concept that materializes future mobility even in virtual spaces.
Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show taking place in Las Vegas, Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Euisun introduced “metamobility” -- referring to an integration of robotics and the metaverse -- as the automaker's new growth engine. The concept is about having robots as a medium for metaverse access, Chung explained, adding that such a vision would allow people to move freely between the real and virtual worlds.
“Robotics is no more a faraway dream but a reality. Hyundai Motor wants to make a great achievement in robotics. Based on robotics, the future mobility solution will expand to what we call metamobility,” Chung said, after appearing on stage with Spot, a four-legged, doglike robot developed by Boston Dynamics.
“Robots are getting closer to humans. Just like you are carrying your phone today, in the future people will carry a Spot one day,” he said. “And they will be a great contribution to humans. Robots can go to places we cannot visit.”
According to the automaker, the future of the metaverse will have no concrete boundary between real life and virtual space by having vehicles, robots, and urban air mobility as tools to log into the metaverse.
The carmaker defined the concept of “metamobility” as robots -- or any other smart device in the future -- becoming mediums connecting humans to the metaverse, so humans can move freely between real life and virtual space.
For example, if a person logs into a home built in the metaverse and feeds his or her dog, a robot at the home will feed the dog in real life.
The automaker said such a concept could also be manifested for smart factories through a partnership with Microsoft.
The digital twin of a physical factory will be set up in the metaverse, connecting all robots and devices in real life to those in a metaverse smart factory.
“Even when an issue occurs at an overseas factory, an employee working in Seoul can simply log into a smart factory in the metaverse to find the problem and input orders for robots to fix the issue remotely,” an official from Hyundai Motor Group said.
In line with its robotics-centric business drive, the automaker’s new robots, Plug & Drive and Drive & Lift, was unveiled for the first time at CES 2022.
The new PnD module is a single-wheel robotics platform that can be used to move around things of diverse sizes autonomously with lidar and camera sensors.
The company said the PnD module will become especially useful for logistics transportation with commercialization of purpose-built vehicles in the last-mile delivery market.
“In the world to come, we will not move our things, but things will actually move around us with the PnD module making traditionally inanimate objects mobile,” said Dong Jin-hyun, vice president and head of the Hyundai Motor Group Robotics Lab.
Hyundai Motor also unveiled the new compact mobility platform Mobed, which is applied with the new DnL module. The DnL module is made with wheels that each move separately and has a motor that can modify the height of the body to the user’s need.
The automaker also presented new robot products built by Boston Dynamics. Spot is a service robot equipped with sensors and cameras that performs diverse activities, while Atlas is a humanoid.
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