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Future mobility

Hyundai unveils unmanned ultimate mobility vehicle concept

Feb 10, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)


▲ TIGER : Hyundai’s Uncrewed Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV) Concept


Hyundai Motor Group has unveiled its first uncrewed ultimate mobility vehicle (UMV) concept, transforming intelligent ground excursion robot (TIGER). The concept vehicle is designed to carry payloads over remote and inaccessible terrain, while operating as a four-wheel drive vehicle or a four-legged walking machine.

The South Korean automotive group took the wraps off the transformative vehicle, weighing 12 kg, on its official YouTube channel on Feb. 10. TIGER is 80 cm long and 40 cm wide. 

“Vehicles like TIGER, and the technologies underpinning it, give us an opportunity to push our imaginations,” said John Suh, head of Hyundai Motor Group’s New Horizons Studio in California. “We are constantly looking at ways to rethink vehicle design and development and re-define the future of transportation and mobility.”

Its features include a sophisticated leg and wheel locomotion system, 360-degree directional control, and a range of sensors for remote observation. It is also intended to connect to unmanned aerial vehicles, which can fully charge and deliver TIGER to inaccessible locations.

TIGER can carry goods for delivery, or be deployed to deliver aid packages in emergency situations. Leg-wheel articulation enables TIGER to tackle a range of extreme situations, while keeping payloads more level than a typical ground vehicle.

With its legs retracted, TIGER drives like an all-wheel drive vehicle and is in its most efficient mode because it moves by rolling traction. But when the vehicle gets stuck or needs to travel over terrain that is difficult or impassable for wheels alone, it uses its walking ability to get unstuck or more easily travel over that terrain.

Those features were previously seen in Elevate, Hyundai Motor's first UMV concept with moveable legs, which debuted at the 2019 Consumer Electronic Show (CES). 

The difference between Elevate and TIGER is that, while the former can carry passengers, the latter is uncrewed. Both TIGER and Elevate blend robotic and wheeled locomotion technologies.

Hyundai unveils unmanned ultimate mobility vehicle concept

These capabilities make the concept vehicle ideal for 360-degree surface evaluation, in areas struck by natural disaster, while tackling challenging terrain, or even exploring the surface of another moon or planet, Hyundai said.

Hyundai Motor Group’s New Horizons Studio developed the TIGER, under the project name of Experimental 1  (X-1), in partnership with the US software company Autodesk and Sundberg-Ferar, a US industrial design company.

The concept vehicle was revealed after Hyundai Motor decided to acquire the US robotics firm Boston Dynamics Inc. from SoftBank Group for slightly less than 1 trillion won ($921 million) last December.

Boston Dynamics is known for the four-legged robot Spot that can trot, climb stairs and open doors. It has also introduced the humanoid robot Atlas and the bird-like mobile robot Handle designed for logistics services.

In a new year’s speech early this year, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun said the group will invest 100 trillion won in the future mobility, including personal air vehicles, robotics and last-mile delivery robots, as well as existing engine vehicles, signaling its intent to pursue additional acquisitions of mobility-related companies.

Write to Il-Gue Kim at black0419@hankyung.com

Yeonhee Kim edited this article.

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