Welcome to Southeast Asia for the groundbreaking of Hyundai Motor Group’s Innovation Center in Singapore (HMGICS), where the goal is to accelerate the company’s human-centric and digital mobility vision. HMGICS endeavors to become a global leader in developing sustainable and advanced transportation solutions that will meet customers’ future expectations.
Welcome to Singapore’s Advanced Production Systems
The visit to the state-of-the-art HMGICS made this my second journey to Singapore’s enchanting and vibrant land. Although the small diamond-shaped island extends just 30 miles long, the Korean automaker chose The Lion City specifically for its tech-savvy talent pool, prosperous economic development, cutting-edge research development, pioneering electronics production, and strong financial services industry. Heavily urbanized, Singapore has the most progressive economy in Southeast Asia, so it was an ideal location for Hyundai to construct its 7-story plant here. However, let’s not call it a plant, but henceforth a smart mobility lab. Space is limited in Singapore; therefore, Hyundai built vertically and even installed an impressive 620-meter quality control Skytrack on the rooftop.
Robotics, AI, and Human Collaboration
Alpesh Patel, Head of Technology Innovation Group and other senior executives were on hand to offer added context and details on HMGICS’s manifestation. Future cities are expected to be keener and more focused on sustainability; thus, Hyundai believes they must provide customers with highly flexible solutions through digital transformations. Here, electric vehicle buyers can interact with their rides and immersively learn about the Hyundai brand and Korean lifestyles, including traditional foods. Roughly 50% of all tasks will be conducted by robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) with the opportunity to build 30,000 EVs annually, including the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and IONIQ 6. The highly skilled 270-person workforce is accustomed to collaborating with the 200 robots onsite. For example, Spot, a mechanical dog, takes pictures of installation processes to catch errors the human tech may not, while parking machines are utilized extensively to maneuver vehicles in position effectively, especially in small corridors to maximize space. Specifically, they can turn a car around 360 degrees without moving forward or backward. In a nutshell, future cities will be leaning on diverse mobility devices and the expansion of shared mobility services.
Automated Mobility Robots
I witnessed automated mobility robots escorting and delivering parts bins to various stations. When I stepped in front of one, it diverted course and moved around me. I then observed large robot arms build an IONIQ 5 in real-time. They install and assemble a majority of the vehicles, such as the seats, grille, headliner, and dashboard. A human tech will bolt in the seats that the arm placed in position. Accordingly, humans and robots harmoniously operate together at HMGICS. Robots are also used to conduct wheel alignments, reducing injury to a human assembler. Another robot the company calls Tony resembles a floor manager cruising around to check for factory quality. They similarly monitor the digital robots to ascertain that each completes an assignment, something that keeps the factory floor clean and on schedule.
“HMGICs will be a testbed to explore and validate the future Hyundai is envisioning. Combining Hyundai’s innovative spirit and Singapore’s fertile atmosphere, we will develop groundbreaking businesses and future technologies,” said Bo Shin Seo, President of Hyundai Motor Company.
Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Center Singapore
I was so blown away by the level of future advancements and the amount of information tossed my way that it seemed unfathomable. But there it was, future technology transpiring right before my eyes through Hyundai’s exhaustive measures. The lab is 50% automated and features solar panels that constitute 30% of the building’s power; a VR Tour where you help install parts during the virtual presentation; an IONIQ Lounge and brand experience; and a special Handover Zone that shows owners through presentation format how their vehicle was assembled before it rolls out. The IONIQ 5 robotaxi is produced here as well. But I am not a fan of autonomous driving just yet!
Hyundai then showed me the Digital Command Center, similar to NASA, with about 20 or more software specialists monitoring and analyzing data from the robots. For example, if a parts bin is missing they can track it and send to the correct location. Large monitors dominate the upstairs hub for everyone to see the data charts and graphics. Likewise, engineers can monitor downtime and determine how it affects the rest of the manufacturing line.
Rooftop Test Track Experience
I didn’t expect to go racing up in the sky while touring a factory, but Hyundai made it happen with innovative ideologies. With that in mind, HMGICS built a Skytrack on floor 5 to appraise the IONIQs coming off the line. The modular layout comprises two straight and two banked, curved sections that enable fast but safe driving. Evaluators know exactly what to look and feel for while zooming around the 620-meter-long track, whether the vehicle needs a suspension adjustment or if its braking inputs are off. Customers can test drive their vehicles after customizing and purchasing online using a smartphone. To directly witness the sustainable and stylish mobility solution, owners are able to follow the build timeline using the HMGICS on-demand technology.
The IONIQ 6 and IONIQ 5 are essential to Hyundai’s strategy to present 17 EV models and sell more than 1.8 million EVs globally by 2030. With its Progress for Humanity mantra, Hyundai will continue celebrating intelligent, eco-friendly, safe, and convenient mobility.
Sustainable Smart Farm
But wait, there is more. How about a sustainable Smart farm to purify the body with healthy sustenance? That’s right, onsite is a Smart Farm-to-table restaurant consisting of cruciferous veggies nurtured by robots and a menu curated by Korean-born, 3-Michelin-star chef Corey Lee. Singapore has few natural resources and 90% of its food supply is imported. With respect, Singapore’s supportive government policies will allow this technique of vegetable cultivation to become a norm. With no extra land, HMGICS will implement innovation and technology in vertical spaces to produce crops such as Swiss Chard and Mustard Greens, which are indigenous to East Asia and have been cultivated for over 3,000 years. The indoor farm utilizes the services of five robot arms that automate the entire process including the harvest (250 daily plants). Some robots plant the seeds, some transport seeding trays, and the larger ones move the towers. The finished products are supplied in the company’s tasting lounge and restaurant and additionally sent out for donations. After a few samples, I was highly impressed by the taste of each green. I had an even greater expectation of sampling the various forms of fermentation that make Korean fare delectable.
After visiting the Innovation Center, it was time to explore Singapore’s cultural entities. The beauty, diversity, and splendor of this sustainable island are gravitational. A few attractions to pay homage to include Gardens by the Bay, the National Gallery, Singapore Flyer, the entertaining Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Little India for savory dosa cuisine, and the National Museum of Singapore which will receive a donated IONIQ 5 from HMGICS. Showcased in movies, shows, and travel social feeds, the extravagant Marina Bay Sands resort consists of three 55-story towers replete with luxury suites, butlers, and the Sands SkyPark, which shows off a spectacular infinity pool and observation deck. And if fully booked, then plan to lay your head at the idyllic Mandarin Oriental Singapore with impeccable views of the Bay.
Travel often and travel wide people. Life is full of wonderment through Mother Earth’s natural environments and innovative technology.