Hyundai seems to have a thing about autonomous robot vehicles.
In January 2019 it showed off the incredible Elevate Walking Car concept, and this week it revealed the TIGER X1 (Transforming Intelligent Ground Excursion Robot).
Developed by Hyundai’s California-based New Horizons Studio in partnership with design software company Autodesk and industrial design group Sundberg-Ferar, this latest Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV) is designed to operate without a crew and carry various types of payload over challenging terrain.
Unlike the terrifying four-legged dog-bots that robotic engineers seem to enjoy trolling us with, the TIGER X1 has four wheels attached to extendable legs as seen on the Elevate concept.
With its legs retracted, it drives like a 4WD vehicle and is in its most efficient mode, meaning it only engages its walking ability if it gets stuck in, or needs to travel over, very difficult terrain – which, going by the pictures supplied, includes the moon.
Based on a modular platform architecture, the TIGER is designed to function as a mobile scientific exploration platform in extreme and remote locations, which, if the pictures are any guide, include the moon.
As well as its leg and wheel locomotion system, it features 360-degree directional control, and a range of sensors for remote observation.
It can also deliver goods, or be deployed to deliver aid packages in emergency situations – and can even connect to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which can fully charge and deliver TIGER to inaccessible locations.
“Vehicles like TIGER, and the technologies underpinning it, give us an opportunity to push our imaginations,” said Dr John Suh, Head of New Horizons Studio.
“We are constantly looking at ways to rethink vehicle design and development and re-define the future of transportation and mobility.”
New Horizons Studio, headquartered in Mountain View, California, is tasked with developing vehicles that shape the future of mobility.
2019 Hyundai Elevate walking car concept.
Its UMV concepts do not rely solely on wheels and are expected to address challenging driving situations – for example, a car with robotic legs that could save lives as the first responder in natural disasters; or people without access to a curb ramp could hail a car to walk up to their front door, level itself and allow wheelchairs to roll in.
Hopefully, we’ll see such technology actually used in practical situations in the near future.