Hyundai Develops Lighter Exoskeleton to Ease Burden in Overhead Work

Hyundai VEX exoskeleton
Image: Hyundai (PR Newswire)

Jobs like car mechanics require workers to lift one of both arms while lifting heavy weight, drilling, driving screws etc. These tasks may lead to a number of injuries. The injury risk greatly increases when the worker works with unstable footing, holds materials above shoulder height, twists their arms in an awkward position, frequently flexing the neck, or performs repetitive movements with force.

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To alleviate the burden in this type of work, Hyundai Motor Group has developed a wearable exoskeleton vest called Vest Exoskeleton (VEX). The new vest is up to 42% lighter than similar products in the market, the company said in a press release.

The VEX is targeted at production-line workers whose job is primarily overhead, such as those bolting the underside of vehicles, fitting brake tubes, and attaching exhausts.

The VEX functions without the need for a battery by imitating human shoulder joint and using multilink lift assistant module.

The VEX enhances productivity and reduces fatigue of industrial workers by imitating the movement of human joints to boost load support and mobility. The wearable vest the polycentric axis – combining multiple pivot points with multi-link muscular assistance – to function, eliminating the need for a battery.

A worker working with an exosuit
Image: Hyundai (YouTube)

At 2.5kg, VEX weighs 22-42% less than competing products and is worn like a backpack. The user places their arms through the shoulder straps of the vest, then fastens the chest and waist buckles. The back section can adjust in length by up to 18 cm to fit a variety of body sizes, while the degree of force assistance can be adjusted over six levels – up to as much as 5.5 kgf.

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“VEX gives workers greater load support, mobility, and adaptability when operating in overhead environments,” stated DongJin Hyun, head of Robotics team of Hyundai Motor Group. “Workers will also appreciate how light VEX is to wear and work with.”

The Group is considering on implementing the VEX on plants around the world. It is expected to go into commercial production in December by Hyundai Rotem and is projected to cost as much as 30% lower than existing products which usually costs around 5,000 dollars.