Automotive

Hyundai's wild robot-car-on-legs gets an unmanned, air-liftable cousin

Hyundai's wild robot-car-on-le...
The TIGER looks pretty zippy on a smooth piece of road, but when the legs come out it can get over, around or through just about anything
The TIGER looks pretty zippy on a smooth piece of road, but when the legs come out it can get over, around or through just about anything
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The TIGER looks pretty zippy on a smooth piece of road, but when the legs come out it can get over, around or through just about anything
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The TIGER looks pretty zippy on a smooth piece of road, but when the legs come out it can get over, around or through just about anything
The TIGER has extra-terrestrial aspirations
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The TIGER has extra-terrestrial aspirations
The legs can articulate with six degrees of freedom, including a swivelling hip that can vastly widen the wheelbase
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The legs can articulate with six degrees of freedom, including a swivelling hip that can vastly widen the wheelbase
When collapsed into its most efficient configuration, the TIGER looks and acts like a regular unmanned car, except with 360-degree wheels and the ability to lean in to corners
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When collapsed into its most efficient configuration, the TIGER looks and acts like a regular unmanned car, except with 360-degree wheels and the ability to lean in to corners
The lightweight, 3D-printed underpinning chassis can take an unlimited range of unmanned mission modules on its back
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The lightweight, 3D-printed underpinning chassis can take an unlimited range of unmanned mission modules on its back
The TIGER can be deployed via eVTOL if necessary
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The TIGER can be deployed via eVTOL if necessary
The reach of those legs gives the Elevate and the TIGER incredible climbing capabilities
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The reach of those legs gives the Elevate and the TIGER incredible climbing capabilities
View gallery - 7 images

Hyundai dropped a lot of jaws when it first announced its bizarre walking robo-car, the Elevate, whose four wheels on articulating legs give it the ability to roll, climb, mammal-walk and spider-walk over a broader range of terrain than anything we've ever seen.

Introduced as a trade-show concept, everyone more or less thought it was a typical piece of automotive-grade marketing toss, until Hyundai announced it was creating a whole new division – New Horizons Studios – solely to focus on futuristic intersections between the automotive, robotics, AI and aviation industries.

New Horizons has now released details on its next project, the TIGER, or "Transforming Intelligent Ground Excursion Robot," which takes the wild platform underpinning the Elevate and repurposes it for remote or autonomous missions.

The legs can articulate with six degrees of freedom, including a swivelling hip that can vastly widen the wheelbase
The legs can articulate with six degrees of freedom, including a swivelling hip that can vastly widen the wheelbase

So the TIGER adapts the skateboard chassis of the Elevate to unmanned mission purposes, moving to a lightweight, carbon composite structure designed to be 3D-printed. It retains the four eye-popping wheels on legs, each offering six degrees of movement freedom thanks to a swiveling, bending hip, a bending knee, a bending ankle, a rotating wheel mount, and the wheels themselves, with their electric hub motors capable of rolling in either direction. And it retains the sensor suite and on-board computing required to read and respond to terrain and drive the thing.

It ditches the cabin on top, though, and replaces it with a mount ready to accept more or less any mission module. You could stick a cargo module on top, or a disaster relief package, or a stretcher, or a module capable of mapping, mining, seeding, inspecting or exploring anything from a nuclear leak to a hostile planet. What's on top doesn't really matter; the platform works with or without it.

The TIGER can be deployed via eVTOL if necessary
The TIGER can be deployed via eVTOL if necessary

Hyundai can build these at any size, to suit a mission plan or cargo goal. It can build them to clip into suitably-sized eVTOL drone platforms that can deploy TIGERs at the closest safe landing site to the target, and let them pick their way through just about any terrain to get the last mile done with minimal tilting of the cargo bed. And lest we forget, Hyundai has dedicated an entire division to eVTOL urban air mobility as well, with a credible tilt-rotor aircraft design already at least mocked up at scale. The company's already talking about using the aircraft to charge up the TIGER, or vice versa.

I guess we can look at the TIGER like a monstrous outgrowth of something like the hyper-modular REE electric vehicle chassis; it's a means of getting things from A to B, whatever those things might be and whatever the terrain. Where it'll end up being used is a matter of commercial imagination, and we certainly hope this extraordinary walking robot car finds its place.

Check it out in motion, looking rather agile, in the video below.

Hyundai’s Uncrewed Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV) Concept

Source: Hyundai New Horizons Studio

View gallery - 7 images
6 comments
Daishi
I have to eat a little crow on this one. I was brutally critical of the Elevate platform for having too many small fragile moving parts in the leg structure to be a useful off road vehicle but some times you throw out crazy ideas that don't work and the pieces you take from them make something that does work. The physics of the smaller vehicle mean the mechanical parts would not be as fragile in supporting the vehicle weight as with the larger Elevate. There are a handful of applications this platform could be useful for.
buzzclick
This is such an impressive development. I had already concluded that legs with wheels is the the ultimate surface mobility platform, but Hyundai has taken the articulation, mobility and flexibility to another level. On top of that is the eVTOL capability feature! Looks like a lot of outfits will have to reconsider their designs to incorporate these ideas. For instance, Boston Dynamic's doggie robot Spot incorporating wheels comes to mind.
paul314
What kind of height could you air-drop this from and have the legs still take up the shock? If whatever is carrying this doesn't actually have to land to deploy it, that opens up a bunch of additional possibilities.
Nelson Hyde Chick
By the time humanity grows by billions more there will be little to no nature to experience with this devise.
Signguy
Who picks up the tab for usage?
Bob Flint
How does it deal with mud, swamp, deep snow?