Safety standards, domestic and international standardization for mobile manipulators to dominate the global market
On July 6, Daegu Metropolitan City announced that “Daegu Mobile Manipulator Regulation-Free Zone” was designated as the third regulation-free zone after the final deliberation of the Regulation-Free Zone Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun.
For four years from August 2020 to July 2024, a total of 18 businesses in the regulation-free zone including SL Corporation, Pyeong Hwa Automotive, Yujin Mechatronics, Yusung Precision Machinery, and Ajin Extek, will be allowed to operate mobile manipulators from partner companies, such as Hyundai Robotics, Doosan Robotics, and LG Electronics, while they are in motion. These robots will be used in manufacturing and production processes and no-contact services at 14 locations (8.3 km2), including Seongseo Industrial Complex.
Hyundai Robotics’ mobile manipulator
A mobile manipulator is a robot built with new technology, in which a robotic manipulator arm is mounted on a mobile platform. Currently, robot manipulators are only allowed to operate in a stationary state. In order to operate them while in motion, Daegu Metropolitan City had applied for the designation of the regulation-free zone.
Currently, countries around the world are competitively undertaking application research and standardization to take the lead in the mobile manipulator market. In an effort for Korean robotics companies to lead the global market, it is important for Korea to establish the international standards as soon as possible. Trial runs in the regulation-free zone would allow the companies to verify the safety and efficiency of mobile manipulators, which would help them gain technological and product competitiveness. In addition, the empirical data gained through trial runs will help establish the safety standards for mobile manipulators and contribute to leading the international standardization in the field.
The demonstration of the operation of mobile manipulators in manufacturing and production (five locations)* to perform barcode recognition, checks, polishing, and posture change while in motion is expected to increase production efficiency by reducing workhours. In addition, it will allow small- and medium-sized companies that focus on small-scale production of a variety of products, which have difficulty making large-scale capital investments, to establish a more flexible production lines at low cost.
* Automobile manufacturing (car lighting module), transportation and loading (car door latch), large product manufacturing (pressure tank), small-scale production of a variety of products (component welding), and production and logistics (logistics and inspection of electronic component production sites)
In addition, mobile manipulators will be used in the annex building of the Daegu City Hall, EXCO, and other public spaces that people frequent. By performing test runs of manipulators providing disinfection and other disease prevention services while in motion, Daegu hopes to respond preemptively to the demand for non-face-to-face service, which is increasing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, various robot-based services in spaces shared by people and robots will be discovered to create and vitalize a new market.
Due to the designation of the mobile cobot regulation-free zone, the Daegu Metropolitan City expects an increase of KRW 176.7 billion in the sales of participating companies, USD 19 million in imports, and 384 in jobs, as well as the attraction of seven domestic and international robotics companies. In addition, economic ripple effect in the region is also estimated to induce KRW 235.9 billion in production, KRW 64.2 billion in value-added, and 684 in employment.
The city also hopes that this would lead to the establishment of an ecosystem of mutual partnership between major cobot manufacturers in Korea and local SMEs, and the wide use of the cobots in the manufacturing, inspection, and logistics tasks in pre-, mid-, and post-processes is expected to contribute to the establishment of a complete smart factory in the future.
Daegu has been nurturing the robotics industry as one of the five new future industries, and its efforts have been rewarded, as its robotics industry ranks number one in regions outside of the Seoul Metropolitan Area, and third nationwide following Gyeonggi-do and Seoul. In addition, Daegu is a member of the Global Robot Cluster (GRC) Network, which includes 13 clusters from 11 countries and five global robotics companies such as Hyundai Robotics.
In March, Daegu announced the Plan to Establish Daegu as a Leading City in Robotics Industry Where People and Robots Coexist at a briefing session attended by President Moon Jae-in. Currently the city is in the process of promoting a project to lay the basis for the demonstration of 5G-based advanced manufacturing robots, a project to foster living-integrated service robots, and a project to provide support for the socially underprivileged using robots.
In June, manufacturing robots was selected as a regional specialization industry in the New Deal Project for Regional Industries supervised by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. As a result, the city will continue to focus on the growth of the robotics industry through cooperation with the strong industries in the region, such as automobile parts, machinery, metals, textile, and others.