Hyundai opens robot-run factory in Singapore

Boston Dynamics robot dogs patrol the production floor of the South Korean auto giant’s new plant in Singapore.

Hyundai is putting Boston Dynamics robot dogs to work in its newly opened production facility in Singapore. The automaker acquired the American engineering firm behind the iconic dog design in 2020.

The robo-dogs are part of a 200-strong robot workforce at the facility, which boasts a production capacity of up to 30,000 electric vehicles a year, according to the company.

Approximately 50% of all tasks are carried out by robots, Hyundai said in a statement, with “humans, robotics, and AI systems achieving unprecedented levels of collaboration thanks to integration made possible by the digital twin platform.”

Human employees, numbering about 280, can simulate tasks in the digital virtual space, or metaverse, while robots physically move components on the production line, bypassing the traditional conveyor-belt assembly model.

“Robots perform assembly, inspection, and production facility organization and take care of more than 60 percent of component process management, ordering, and transportation,” Hyundai said.

This “frees humans from repetitive and laborious tasks to focus on more creative and productive duties,” the company added.

Image by Hyundai

Called the Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center Singapore, or HMGICS, the facility is based in the city-state’s Jurong Innovation District and was officially opened by Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on Tuesday (November 21st).

The plant has already been operational for some time, however – it has been churning out Hyundai’s IONIQ 5 models since early this year. It also manufactures the fully autonomous IONIQ 5 robotaxis for the US market and will add the IONIQ 6 sedan to its production portfolio next year.

“The facility will serve as a testbed for developing future mobility solutions – including Purpose Built Vehicles (PBVs) – thanks to its advanced manufacturing capability,” Hyundai said in a statement.

The seven-story facility spans 86,900 ㎡, or 935,384 square feet of floor space. While not officially disclosed, local media reports put the price tag of the plant at 400 million Singaporean dollars, or about $300 million.

Image by Hyundai

Hyundai said that alongside its new mega factory in Ulsan, South Korea, the HMGICS “will establish itself as one of two Hyundai Motor Group innovation pillars that will lead the company’s future in the electrification era.”

The site in UIsan can produce about 200,000 electric vehicles a year, according to Hyundai, which is the world’s third largest automaker but falls behind in the electric market dominated by Chinese manufacturers and Elon Musk’s Tesla.

The company hopes to close the gap with plans to produce 2 million electric vehicles by 2030.