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Hyundai Motor Group and SOSLAB, a South Korea-based company specializing in solid-state LiDAR, entered into an memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly develop LiDAR sensors for mobile robots. The goal is to develop a high-resolution 3D LiDAR for autonomous navigation performance optimization of Hyundai’s Mobile Eccentric Droid (MobED) that was unveiled in December 2021. Hyundai Motor Group and SOSLAB will cooperate on the goal over the next two years.
SOSLAB (Smart Optical Sensors Lab) develops 2D/3D solid-state LiDAR sensors for industrial and automotive use. A solid-state LiDAR sensor is a sensor that recognizes the environment surrounding a vehicle without having rotating parts, unlike a conventional mechanical LiDAR sensor that rotates 360°.
For the joint development of LiDAR for mobile robots, Hyundai Motor Group will provide hardware design and software algorithms with its robotics technologies. SOSLAB will offer advanced 3D high-resolution LiDAR design technologies and its software know-how.
The collaboration aims to develop an autonomous mobile robot that can move more stably on irregular surfaces and in between obstacles by expanding the short-distance recognition range while reducing the LiDAR sensor size.
“With 3D LiDAR optimized to Hyundai Motor Group’s mobile robot, we will take a step closer to commercializing the compact mobility platform of autonomous driving which can drive freely in complicated indoor and outdoor spaces,” said Dong Jin Hyun, Head of Hyundai Motor Group Robotics Lab. “By doing so, we will be able to introduce a range of new businesses and services including delivery service and personal mobility.”
“The robotics industry ultimately aims to improve people’s lives by bringing about innovation in the mobility market,” SOSLAB CEO Ji-seong Jeong said. “For its realization, we will supply safe and accurate high-resolution 3D LiDAR sensors that are optimized for the robotics industry.”
Hyundai Motor Group completed its acquisition of Boston Dynamics in June 2021. It acquired an 80% stake in Boston Dynamics for about $880 million. SoftBank owns the remaining 20% through one of its affiliates. Hyundai became the third owner of Boston Dynamics in seven years. It was acquired by Google in 2013 and sold to Softbank Group in 2017. It has mainly operated as an R&D organization since it was founded, but a new emphasis on commercialization was evident after it was acquired by Softbank.
Hyundai released the first glimpse (watch below) of what it’s doing with Boston Dynamics’ Spot quadruped in September 2021. Hyundai started testing the aptly named “Factory Safety Service Robot” at a Kia manufacturing plant in South Korea. Spot is one of the tools Hyundai uses to ensure the facility is safe for workers. Spot looks a tad different than normal as Hyundai’s Robotics Lab outfitted the legged robot with a custom payload.