Wearable exoskeleton suits could really be a thing in the future

Automakers that have the financial resources like Hyundai are just as likely to use that money in developing new automotive technology as they are in venturing into a different tech industry altogether. The Korean automaker proved as much when it unveiled the Hyundai Lifecaring ExoSkeleton (H-LEX) in 2015. Now, Hyundai’s back with a modified version of the prototype, which it says is lighter and more functional than the first version.

The new exoskeleton suit is said to provide the same types of functionality as the H-LEX suit, except that the new version is much lighter than its predecessor, thus making it easier to use. It’s not exactly Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit just yet, but Hyundai has made it known that it wants its prototype to eventually have similar functions to what the Iron Man suits are capable of, minus, of course, the weaponized capabilities.

Those who are familiar with the Marvel character will know that outside of all the weapons Stark’s Iron Man suits can carry, it’s also an excellent transportation device, allowing him to fly just about anywhere. It also gives him super strength, something Hyundai claims its suit is already capable of doing. The Korean automaker also sees a number of functions for its suit that can be applied for real-world use.

Whether it’s for military use or production use, the suits are being developed by Hyundai to become more than just a showcase piece for its R&D division. It’s unclear how far Hyundai will take this development but if it’s as serious as it says it is about the long-term potential of its exoskeleton suits, it could prove to be a real game-changing equipment for a lot of industries.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

Hyundai Reveals Latest Version Of Iron Man-Like Exoskeleton Suit
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I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to lift a car without even breaking a sweat. Such thoughts are usually reserved for Hollywood films, but if Hyundai does end up running with this technology and develop it for production, I may be able to find out quite literally what lifting a car would feel like.

Give Hyundai credit for pursuing this, although it must be said that it’s not the only that has dabbled into exoskeleton suit technology. Audi is also working on its version of a carbon fiber exoskeleton that allows workers to sit in mid-air courtesy of what the company calls a “chairless chair” that only weighs a little over five pounds. Even companies outside of the automotive industry have begun developing their own robot suit, including Lockheed Martin and Panasonic.

Obviously, these suits have a strong appeal, not only because of the Iron Man inspiration, but more importantly because of the actual benefits they could have for people in the real world. Think about somebody who has a physical disability or is paralyzed being able to function normally again because of an exoskeleton suit. How about those people who work in a production facility. Think they could cut the their labor work with these suits? I think they could.

The potential is there for positive real-world use and applications but there is also the possibility that these suits can be used for nefarious reasons. That’s the kind of dilemma companies like Hyundai and Audi will have to be cognizant of if they want to pursue this tech. As is with new technology, there are always pros and cons to it. Let’s just hope that whatever ends up from Hyundai’s ‘Next Mobility’ Group is something that the world will have a lot of practical use for.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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