Hyundai pushing the boundaries in robotic exoskeleton suit technology for disabled
An extraordinary moment a paraplegic sportsman walked over to his mum and hugged her for the first time in more than 10 years – with the help of a robotic exoskeleton.
Jun-beom Park was confined to a wheelchair in 2008 after being involved in an accident on the way to a school exam. He damaged his thoracic vertebrae and suffered from depression as a result of the incident, isolating himself from his friends, girlfriend or family for a year.
Now, 11 years on, the archery star has taken his ‘second first steps’ thanks to an ‘exoskeleton suit’ developed by Hyundai Motors Robotics Lab in Seoul, South Korea. In the video, Jun-beom, 28, is seen putting his weight on his legs to stand up from his wheelchair, aided by his Hyundai Medical Exoskeleton (H-MEX).
Hyundai was confident about the test having completed research, development and carried out trials, but it was not without its dangers with any mistake or miscalculation potentially dangerous to Jun-beom.
But after taking a deep breath, the Para-archer nervously walks toward his parents in an emotional scene reminiscent of a baby taking its first steps. The Para-archer, ranked seventh in the world, reaches his mother to hug her courtesy of the wearable robotics.
The touching moment is part of Hyundai’s vision to develop technology where robots and humans can work together to re-define mobility.
Dong Jin Hyun, head of Robotics Lab of Hyundai Motor Company, said: “Our lab is eager to develop a medical exoskeleton, H-MEX as one of the mobility solutions for paraplegics to improve their daily life.
“Hyundai Motor plans to fulfill its brand vision through robotics for future mobility. With our effort on robotics, we want to contribute to progress for humanity.”
The whole process followed a four-page letter that Jun-beom Park had written to Hyundai in the summer of 2019. It encouraged Hyundai to investigate to see whether their robotics technology could help the him walk again.
The successful test follows the company’s Hyundai Vest Exoskeleton (H-VEX) which was designed for industrial workers who spend much of the workday reaching up in overhead environments.
WonhongCho, chief marketing officer of Hyundai Motor Company, said: “This represents an important first step for Hyundai Motor’s robotics technology, and demonstrates a future vision enabled by the company’s technological innovation.
“Hyundai Motor will continually strive to improve the lives of customers by offering them diverse human-centered technological solutions encompassing smart mobility devices and services.”