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Hyundai Motor Group Steps Into The Future With Legged Vehicles 

 February 10, 2021

By  Mike Oitzman

Hyundai Motor Group unveiled their vision for the future of mobility today with the introduction of their concept of Ultimate Mobility Vehicles (UMV). Once you understand the UMV concept, the vision behind the recent acquisition of Boston Dynamics by the Hyundai Group makes total sense.

TIGER acronym

TIGER X-1 is a Concept Vehicle

The first concept UMV platform was revealed today as TIGER, which is an acronym for Transforming Intelligent Ground Excursion Robot. As we’ll see, TIGER has a lot in common with the Boston Dynamics Spot robot. The company also decloaked their new design center called New Horizons Studio, headquartered in Mountain View, CA. The studio was established in late 2020 to develop UMVs drawing on research and innovation leadership from Silicon Valley and other innovation hubs.

Hyundai TIGER X-1 on the surface of another planet

The Hyundai TIGER X-1 concept can be extended for missions to space and other planets. (image courtesy of Hyundai)

 “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.”

TIGER employs “legs” with wheels to offer multiple modes of transportation. The UMV can roll on its wheels with the legs retracted when the terrain is smooth. If TIGER comes across an obstacle, it can change to a legged locomotion mode to traverse the obstacle. This was a feature previously seen in Elevate, Hyundai Motor Group’s first-ever UMV concept with moveable legs, which debuted at the 2019 Consumer Electronic Show (CES). Unlike Elevate, which was designed to carry passengers, TIGER is designed to be a platform for a variety of uses, including data acquisition, cargo recovery/delivery or even space missions to other planets.

A diagram of the Hyundai X-1 showing all of the features

The Hyundai TIGER X-1 can be easily reconfigured based on the application requirements. (image courtesy of Hyundai)

TIGER is also designed to be built using additive manufacturing techniques. This enables designs to quickly iterate for new applications. Hyundai envisions a joint UAV/UMV platform that combines a drone for UMV insertion into a remote/inaccessible location. The TIGER platform could be built in either large or small scale depending on the mission.

Image of a drone carrying the TIGER X-1 to a mission dropoff point

Hyundai envisions that the TIGER X-1 could be delivered by a drone. (image courtesy of Hyundai)

Hyundai Is Working With Global Partners To Develop UMVs

The first version of TIGER is X-1 (the X stands for experimental) and brings together a wide-range of technological and design expertise. The project is being led by Hyundai Motor Group’s New Horizons Studio, while working in close partnership with Autodesk, a leading engineering design software company.

“Working closely with the team at Hyundai on the TIGER X-1 vehicle, using advanced technology such as generative design to push the boundaries of increasing strength while reducing weight in transportation, is exactly what we mean when we talk about creating the new possible,” said Srinath Jonnalagadda, Vice President of Business Strategy for Design and Manufacturing at Autodesk. “New design, engineering and manufacturing techniques enabled by Autodesk Fusion 360 help today’s modern, collaborative teams get to production faster and more efficiently.”

TIGER X-1 fuses Autodesk’s generative design capabilities with Hyundai’s growing R&D capabilities in mobility. The teams have been working together to create a lightweight but incredibly strong structure, with the legs and certain chassis elements created using carbon fiber composite additive printing.

Hyundai Is Looking To The Future

The New Horizons Studio, combined with the recent acquisition of Boston Dynamics provides Hyundai with the opportunity to innovate and iterate faster than their competitors. This announcement also demonstrates how Hyundai is looking beyond the next automotive model year and positioning the company for future transportation needs.

New Horizons Studio furthers Hyundai Motor Group’s vision to shape the future of mobility and brings onboard forward-thinking, innovative leadership from Silicon Valley and other innovation hubs. UMV concepts in development do not rely solely on wheels and are expected to address challenging driving situations – for example, a car with robotic legs 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.

About the author 

Mike Oitzman

Mike Oitzman brings 25 years of product management and product marketing experience to the role of publisher and editor for Mobile Robot Guide. Mike is a respected expert in the mobile robot market and is a frequent panel leader and speaker at events and tradeshows.

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