It’s not just cars in Geneva...
Someone forgot to tell Hyundai that the Geneva Motor Show is for, well, showing cars. The Korean carmaker might well have a few new additions to its four-wheeled line-up (there's the i30 Tourer, for starters), but the engineering giant has also opted to showcase something completely different.
As part of a plan to move into other markets, Hyundai has developed wearable powered robots that it claims will revolutionize the future of personal mobility. The firm’s advanced assistive medical, work and daily life exoskeletons demonstrate its ambition to provide customers with personal mobility solutions and freedom beyond the car.
The H-MEX (Hyundai Medical EXoskeleton), to give it its full name, has been designed to help patients with lower spinal cord injuries regain the ability to walk. The clever kit gives paraplegics the ability to sit, stand, move, turn, and even walk up or down stairs.
Hyundai has also developed technology to assist people with limited physical strength. The HUMA (Hyundai Universal Medical Assist) exoskeleton provides “assistive torque” to help those with limited mobility to easily move their bodies. By adjusting the torque according to each form of movement, such as walking, running, or going up and down stairs, Hyundai boasts that HUMA assists users to move easily. It can support up to 88 pounds (40 kilograms) of a wearer’s weight and, unloaded, can run at a speed up to 7 miles per hour (11 kilometers per hour). The carmaker has cited load-carrying duties that would prove a perfect fit for the technology’s abilities.
Power for these futuristic extensions to the human skeleton comes from removable and rechargeable battery packs, and their lightweight frames are adjustable in length to fit different sizes of user. The user’s lower back and knees are supported with harness fixture points, while the devices change shape and flex around the artificial joint structures of the robotic frame to manage body posture and ensure that walking can be undertaken without hampering the user.
Sadly there’s no word on price or availability of these clever pieces of kit, or whether you’ll ever be able to try them out at your local Hyundai car dealership.