KAIST Mechanical Engineering Dept. Professor Kyoungchul Kong

Angel Robotics CEO


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“I have developed robotics technology to help the elderly and disabled.”

When we think of wearable robots, we often think of robot suits in movies. However, KAIST Mechanical Engineering Department Professor, wearable robot developer, and winner of the international cyborg Olympics, Kyoungchul Kong, envisions robots that will help everyone enjoy everyday life including the elderly and people with disabilities.


From Cybathlon Victory to Patient Rehabilitation

Byeong-Uk Kim of Korea won the powered exoskeleton race in the Cybathlon 2020, which can be called the international cyborg Olympics. Thanks to this victory, the “WalkON Suit” of the research team led by KAIST Mechanical Engineering Professor Kyoungchul Kong received worldwide attention. The technological prowess of the startup company, Angel Robotics, founded in 2014 by Professor Kong, was highlighted internationally.

In a visit to Angel Robotics located in Seongsudong, Seoul, Professor Kong explained that, “although we researched wearable robots for the elderly for a long time, the true value of our technology was not recognized. The Cybathlon was an opportunity to show our technology to the world.” After developing the WalkON Suit for a year in 2015, the research team of Professor Kong took part in the first Cybathlon and won a bronze medal. Later, they took home the gold medal in last year’s Cybathlon after proper planning and development. The WalkON Suit is a wearable robot for people with complete paralysis.

Research in the field of wearable robotics began when Professor Kong started his master’s in 2003. Kong said, “Actually, I had many opportunities to meet people with disabilities during community service in a community welfare center as an elementary school student. When I started my studies in robotics, I wanted my technology to be of direct help to people.” Currently, the robotics technology developed by Professor Kong is helping in the rehabilitation of patients at the Severance Rehabilitation Hospital together with Professor Rha Dong-wook.

“When I announced that I would create a robot that will assist the elderly, there were many people who thought robotics technology for people with complete paralysis would be much more difficult. In actuality, they are two completely different technologies. The WalkON Suit incorporates humanoid technology while the robotics technology for assisting the elderly is a precision technology that only needs to provide support for the lack of muscle strength.”

Today, at Angel Robotics, the Angel Legs and Angel Suit have been developed in addition to the WalkON Suit. Angel Legs is a wearable robot product that is being used in hospitals and Angel Suit is an orthosis device for daily life. Angel Legs is a medical robot especially used in hospitals for gait rehabilitation treatment of children and adults. Angel Legs for gait treatment was first introduced at Severance Rehabilitation Hospital last year and is planned for introduction in 10 additional hospitals nationwide this year.


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- A view of the Angel Robotics office located in Seongsudong, Seoul. Wearable robots for the elderly and people with disabilities are developed here.


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- Employees of Angel Robotics are discussing about the components of wearable robots. These components must be manufactured with careful attention to detail as they will become part of robots used in the gait rehabilitation treatment of children and adults in hospitals.


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- At Angel Robotics, Angel Legs and Angel Suit are being developed in addition to the WalkON Suit. Angel Legs is a medical robotic device used in the gait rehabilitation treatment of patients in hospitals and Angel Suit is an orthosis device for daily life.


“Robotics Technology for Everyone to Enjoy Everyday Life”

What motivated Professor Kong to start Angel Robotics? “I thought that the technology I developed should not just end with the publication of a few academic papers. The final goal should be that the technology be delivered to users and especially patients. So, I was determined to start the company. I eagerly wanted to see the commercialization of the technology and not simply stop at journal papers.”

The mission of Angel Robotics is to enable everyone to enjoy everyday life through robotics technology. The company explains that the goal of the company is neither the realization of wearable robots that we see in movies nor developing a few plausible products and selling them in the market. Professor Kong said, “This means that we want to give back everyday life to people who cannot enjoy everyday life due to old age, disease, or disabilities they were born with. To accomplish this, we are focusing on the development of robots necessary for support and patient rehabilitation treatment for people with disabilities and the elderly.”


“Robotics Technology for Everyone to Enjoy Everyday Life”

What motivated Professor Kong to start Angel Robotics? “I thought that the technology I developed should not just end with the publication of a few academic papers. The final goal should be that the technology be delivered to users and especially patients. So, I was determined to start the company. I eagerly wanted to see the commercialization of the technology and not simply stop at journal papers.”

The mission of Angel Robotics is to enable everyone to enjoy everyday life through robotics technology. The company explains that the goal of the company is neither the realization of wearable robots that we see in movies nor developing a few plausible products and selling them in the market. Professor Kong said, “This means that we want to give back everyday life to people who cannot enjoy everyday life due to old age, disease, or disabilities they were born with. To accomplish this, we are focusing on the development of robots necessary for support and patient rehabilitation treatment for people with disabilities and the elderly.”


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 - Byeong-Uk Kim, who won a gold medal in the Cybathlon 2020, poses while wearing the WalkON Suit. Kim, who is paraplegic, wore the WalkON Suit to successfully carry out the tasks of sitting down, standing up, and walking up and down stairs in the competition.


With regard to the future development of robotics for the elderly and people with disabilities, Professor Kong explained, “Everyone eventually experiences walking disability. If you are in an accident, you will get a cast on your leg after surgery. If you’re lucky, you will have gait disturbance for a very short period of time. People who experience such walking disability are no longer disabled. Like wearing glasses when your eyesight diminishes, you can get help using a robot when it becomes difficult to walk.”

Currently, Angel Robotics is developing an orthosis that can be worn like typical clothing but underneath other clothing so that the device is not distinguishable from the outside. The future is near when people will be able to wear stylish wearable robots like wearing fashion glasses.


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