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Kia to unveil new robot in 2024

S. Korean auto giant to conduct pilot flight of advanced air mobility technology in 2024

By Kan Hyeong-woo

Published : Aug. 1, 2023 - 15:45

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An image of Boston Dynamics' four-legged robot Spot working at an automotive plant (Boston Dynamics) An image of Boston Dynamics' four-legged robot Spot working at an automotive plant (Boston Dynamics)

Kia will debut a new robot next year in collaboration with Boston Dynamics, a US-based robotics company that was acquired by Kia’s parent Hyundai Motor Group in 2021, according to the South Korean automaker’s latest sustainability report published Tuesday.

Although the report did not specify what type of robot it will be, the report noted that Kia will continue to search for new business opportunities such as robotics logistics and unstaffed delivery services by collaborating with the company’s manufacturing and production capabilities already secured through the existing automotive businesses.

“(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,” a Hyundai Motor Group official said.

“We are working on developing various types of robots. But nothing has been confirmed about next year.”

The report pointed out that the demand for robots is expected to increase as the frequency of robot application in many sectors of society has grown, introducing the examples of four-legged industrial safety robot Spot and warehouse-tailored logistics robot Stretch, both of which were developed by Boston Dynamics and have been commercialized.

According to the report, Kia plans to invest about 28 trillion won ($21.9 billion) in robotics and advanced air mobility through 2026.

As for the future plans for the company’s air mobility, the report said Kia will conduct a pilot flight with a prototype aircraft to test technological feasibility next year. It added that the goal is to begin mass production of an electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, known as eVTOL, as a core product in 2028.

Kia also unveiled the newly established slogan for its environmental, social and governance as “Sustainable Movement for an Inspiring Future” and reaffirmed the automaker’s commitment to achieving zero carbon emissions in 2045.

The report highlighted Kia’s goal to use 100 percent renewable energy at all of its manufacturing sites in South Korea, China, India, Mexico, Slovakia and the United States by 2040.

“Kia’s efforts in leading the eco-friendliness movement does not stop at decreasing carbon emissions at manufacturing sites,” the report wrote. “It will extend to cutting down carbon emissions in the stage of product usage by manufacturing high-quality automated products.”

On top of the goal to have an all-electric vehicle lineup of 15 cars by 2027, Kia will look to bring up the proportion of EV sales in major markets -- Korea, China, North America and Europe -- to 52 percent of the total by 2030.

The automaker underscored that the Kia EV9, the company’s first three-row large sport utility vehicle running on electric batteries, emits 23 percent less carbon emissions compared to other internal combustion engine-powered vehicles in the same class.

Kia's 2023 Sustainability Report is seen on a tablet. (Hyundai Motor Group) Kia's 2023 Sustainability Report is seen on a tablet. (Hyundai Motor Group)