NEWSBYTE South Korean electronics giant LG has confirmed that it will unveil a ‘human-centric’ wearable robot to the public at the IFA 2018 show in Berlin next week.
The CLOi SuitBot is designed to support mobility by enhancing the power of its user’s legs. It could be used for both commercial and social care applications.
LG robot aims to improve quality of life
The unveiling of the CLOi SuitBot follows the strategic investment that LG made in SG Robotics last year. The startup is focused on developing robots to help people overcome mobility issues and, more generally, the limitations of the human body.
Robotic exoskeletons are notoriously clunky and expensive, although the market is evolving as the focus shifts from military and medical applications to exploring ways the technology can augment human work in construction, manufacturing, and logistics.
LG claims that its new SuitBot will offer “a comfortable fit” and that its rotating joints will ensure wearers move in a more relaxed and natural way.
The CLOi SuitBot can also connect to LG’s range of service robots – launched at CES earlier this year – to form a smarter workforce. In practice, that will mean a degree of collaboration and automation between LG’s robots.
Wearable robot will grow smarter over time
The CLOi suit will also use AI to learn and evolve over time, analysing biometric and environmental data to suggest optimal movements and stances for maximum power efficiency.
“LG CLOi SuitBot is evidence of our full commitment to expanding our portfolio of service robots that deliver tangible convenience and innovation in our lives,” said Song Dae-hyun, president of LG’s Home Appliance & Air Solution Company.
“It’s just one example of a wide range of revolutionary AI products designed to interact with users to dramatically elevate user convenience and create new opportunities to advance our robotics initiative into a next-gen growth engine.”
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UK-RAS – the UK’s organisation for robotics research, part of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) – has long been predicting the rise of wearable robots and exoskeletons.
These technologies could be part of the UK’s future economic prosperity, it believes.
The applications are legion, such as discreet, low-cost medical robotics to aid mobility, robot exoskeletons in engineering and infrastructure maintenance (where drones also have enormous potential), and in industrial applications, such as heavy lifting and enhanced operational capabilities.
In the long run, these and other applications raise some intriguing questions: are wearable robotics the next stage, after wearable devices, of the slow merging of man and machine? Or step one in a long journey towards humanoid robots replacing human beings in some applications?
In the meantime, an era in which humans and robots collaborate more closely is heralded by LG’s announcement. Fast forward 10 years into the future, and the sight of robot-enhanced humans working with teams of drones or ‘cobot’ workers in streets and factories could be commonplace – as evidenced by LG’s publicity photo for the CLOi launch (see above).