We wouldn’t normally write a story about a new security guard starting work at a Kia plant in South Korea, but this one has four legs, a thermal camera and laser sensors, and goes by the name of Factory Service Safety Robot.
The new recruit to the Kia plant is the first application of the tech on offer to Hyundai Group following its acquisition of cutting-edge US robotics firm Boston Dynamics this year.
Based on Boston Dynamic’s dog-like robot Spot, the Factory Service Safety Robot has an important role at Kia’s Gyeonggi Province factory.
Equipped with 3D lidar sensors and thermal imaging the robot can detect people, monitor fire hazards and security risks as it patrols and navigates through the facility autonomously using AI.
“The Factory Service Robot is the first collaboration project with Boston Dynamics. The robot will help detect risks and secure people’s safety in industrial sites,” said Dong Jon Hyun, head of Hyundai Motor Group Robotics Lab.
“We will also continue to create smart services that detect dangers at industrial sites and help support a safe work environment through continuous collaborations with Boston Dynamics.”
The robot will support a human security team as it patrols the site at night sending back live images to a control centre which can take over manual control when needed. If the robot detects an emergency, it can also autonomously raise the alarm.
Hyundai Group says that multiple robot dogs can be connected to investigate risks together as a pack.
With robot dogs now joining security patrols it raises the question of whether these high-tech guards could be armed in the future.
CarsGuide asked Hyundai if it would ever fit or allow one of its robots to be equipped with a weapon when it acquired Boston Dynamics in earlier in the year.
“Boston Dynamics has a clear philosophy not to weaponize robots, which the Group agrees,” Hyundai told us at the time.
Hyundai is not the only car maker to pursue a sideline in robotics. Tesla's CEO Elon Musk recently announced that his electric vehicle company was developing a humanoid robot that can lift and carry objects.