Kia Corp. last week said in its annual sustainability report that it is working with Boston Dynamics Inc. to release a new robot in 2024. The Hyundai Motor Group units did not specify what type of robot it will be, but they said they expect to tap into their development and manufacturing capabilities.
Seoul, South Korea-based Kia has been exploring business opportunities in robotic logistics and automated delivery services, according to the Korea Herald. The automaker also plans to invest 28 trillion won ($21.9 billion U.S.) in air mobility, including electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, leading to mass production by 2028, it reported.
“[The plan to unveil a new robot in 2024] is one of the many robotics research and development efforts that Hyundai Motor Group is currently working on,” said a Hyundai Motor Group official. “We are working on developing various types of robots. But nothing has been confirmed about next year.”
Kia has set sustainability goals of increasing production of electric vehicles (EVs) to 52% of its total in key markets by 2030, building lower-emission vehicles, and implementing 100% renewable energy usage in its factories by 2040. The company said its ultimate goal is carbon neutrality by 2045.
Boston Dynamics continues commercialization
Hyundai Motor Group acquired Boston Dynamics in 2021. The Waltham, Mass.-based company was previously owned by Google X (now part of Alphabet Inc.) and SoftBank Robotics.
Already well-known for videos of its Atlas humanoid robots, Boston Dynamics has focused on commercial applications of its robots since the Hyundai acquisition. The Spot quadruped has been used for security and infrastructure inspection, and the company has developed the Stretch mobile manipulator to unload truck trailers and shipping containers.
In 2021, Hyundai deployed Spot robots for safety inspections at a factory in Gwangmyeong, South Korea. DHL Supply Chain deployed Stretch in February 2023.
In June, Boston Dynamics announced new capabilities for Spot and a partnership with artificial intelligence provider Levatas.
Hyundai, Kia extend FIFA partnership
In May, Hyundai and Kia announced the renewal of their partnerships with Zurich-based soccer association FIFA through 2030. They plan to provide transportation, autonomous driving technologies, and future mobility services at global events and tournaments.
The organizations added Boston Dynamics and Hyundai air mobility unit Supernal to the collaboration. “Both subsidiaries are central to the group’s transformation into a smart and sustainable mobility solutions provider that is driven to advance future modes of mobility,” said Hyundai.
“We’re thrilled to continue our long-standing partnerships with Hyundai and Kia. Over the years, they have consistently demonstrated their commitment to supporting FIFA, and we value their dedication to enhancing the overall experience at our tournaments,” stated Gianni Infantino, president of FIFA. “As we enter this new era together, we’re excited about the prospects that lie ahead with the addition of Boston Dynamics and Supernal.”
At the 2023 Seoul Mobility Show in March, Hyundai demonstrated its Automatic Charging Robot (ACR), which uses AI to reliably and accurately plug the charger into an EV vehicle port (see video below). Hyundai Motor Group is also supporting Motional, an autonomous vehicle joint venture with Aptiv.
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