Hyundai develops small welding robot to tackle big jobs


May 13, 2013

Hyundai Heavy Industries tests out its new miniature robotic welding arm

Hyundai Heavy Industries tests out its new miniature robotic welding arm

Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), which lays claim to being the largest shipbuilding company in the world, says it has developed a miniature welding robot that can be easily transported by a worker and affixed to a ship using magnets. The small, portable robot is expected to increase worker productivity two to threefold.

Developed at an internal HHI Research Institute, the miniature welding arm weighs just 15 kg (33 lb), and measures 15 cm (6 inches) high and 50 cm (20 inches) long. The arm itself consists of six joints, allowing it to reach and move like a human arm. Like other industrial robots, this one can operate continuously and produces clean, uniform results.

The robot's small form factor not only makes it easy to transport, but allows it to weld in tight spaces that may be hard to reach by human workers. HHI is involved not only in shipbuilding but also offshore oil rigs, so the robot will get different software to allow it to tackle multiple jobs on marine construction sites, including steel cutting, blasting, and painting work.

The robot is expected to at least double productivity because a single worker can oversee two to three of the robots at once. HHI will deploy the robot in the latter half of this year and says it will ramp up development of other marine construction robots in the future.

Source: Hyundai Heavy Industries

About the Author
Jason Falconer Jason is a freelance writer based in central Canada with a background in computer graphics. He has written about hundreds of humanoid robots on his website Plastic Pals and is an avid gamer with an unsightly collection of retro consoles, cartridges, and controllers. All articles by Jason Falconer

It's funny that it is easier for robots to replace the highly skilled workers (machinists or welders), but they are nowhere near replacing the unskilled worker. Low-skill human labor is still necessary to carry this robot onto a ship, attach it, plug it in, feed it electrodes, brush away the scale. . . No robot is capable of doing all this, and will not be for decades to come.

Sci-fi writers used to imagine robots taking over menial tasks. But it looks like in the actual future menial tasks will be the only niche left for us. :-/


There is only one picture, but it looks like a MIG machine. That means that there are no electrodes to feed, rather spools and gas. And MIG creates virtually no scale. Setting up and monitoring machines like this is definitely not low-skill labor. The machines just make a skilled tradesman more productive.

Bruce H. Anderson

Yes, you are pretty close there in your assessment. In the movie Silent Running, Bruce Dern's character received a leg injury in a fight with the other crewmen, and reprogrammed one of the three maintenance robots to perform surgery on him. Now couple the robotic surgery machine with some adaptive intelligence programming and machine vision, and you could have a robot surgeon! If the weld joints are prepped properly, and a gas shield is used, there's almost no slag to brush away. A wire wheel or grinding stone following behind the welding head could clean up any debris.


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