Automotive

Hyundai is actually building those wild unstoppable 4x4s on robot legs

Hyundai is actually building t...
The articulated legs of the Elevate allow it to stand up and walk over obstacles that would chew regular off-road vehicles to pieces
The articulated legs of the Elevate allow it to stand up and walk over obstacles that would chew regular off-road vehicles to pieces
View 8 Images
The articulated legs of the Elevate allow it to stand up and walk over obstacles that would chew regular off-road vehicles to pieces
1/8
The articulated legs of the Elevate allow it to stand up and walk over obstacles that would chew regular off-road vehicles to pieces
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
2/8
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 legs can articulate with six degrees of freedom, including a swivelling hip that can vastly widen the wheelbase
3/8
The legs can articulate with six degrees of freedom, including a swivelling hip that can vastly widen the wheelbase
The TIGER can be deployed via eVTOL if necessary
4/8
The TIGER can be deployed via eVTOL if necessary
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 into corners
5/8
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 into corners
Hyundai revealed the Elevate at CES 2019
6/8
Hyundai revealed the Elevate at CES 2019
We're not sure you're likely to slide off the road in the Elevate, but if you do, simply walk out of the snowbank
7/8
We're not sure you're likely to slide off the road in the Elevate, but if you do, simply walk out of the snowbank 
The idea of the Elevate is to get responders into the heart of the disaster zone
8/8
The idea of the Elevate is to get responders into the heart of the disaster zone
View gallery - 8 images

We see a lot of wacky concept vehicles, but few as nutty as Hyundai's Ultimate Utility Vehicles with their robotic stilt legs. And the company is dead serious about building them, too, with a new development and test facility to be built in Montana.

The New Horizons Studio will get around US$20 million over the next five years, and will employ about 50 people. Located in Montana State University's Innovation Campus in Bozeman, Montana, it'll be "a unit focused on the development of Ultimate Mobility Vehicles" – starting out with two projects, inspired by the TIGER autonomous vehicle and the Elevate crewed UMV, the latter of which will start out as a two-seater.

The goal here is to build the most unstoppable rough-terrain vehicles on the market. As such, these things will have four electrically driven wheels, each mounted on bizarre articulating legs. These powerful robotic legs can bend or swivel at the hip, bend again at the knee and ankle, and fully rotate the wheels before they touch down as well. They're capable of lifting these vehicles or lowering them, stepping over things, stepping up and down off sheer ledges, and precisely placing the wheels on the toughest of driving surfaces. Check out the original "Project Elevate" video below.

Project Elevate | Hyundai

Part of the challenge here will be developing the sensor suite and control systems that can figure out what to do with these six degrees of freedom at each corner, and turn those decisions into a smooth and usable driving experience.

First cab off the rank will be the TIGER-inspired autonomous platform. This smallish machine is conceived as a go-anywhere platform that could prove useful in rural logistics, construction, mining and even space-based operations. When the TIGER concept was first revealed, Hyundai suggested it could be connected to the bottom of an eVTOL-style aircraft, to be transported into the thick of a tough area, dropped off and sent on its way to finish the mission before being picked up again. Take a look in the video below.

See what an Ultimate Mobility Vehicle can do | TIGER | Hyundai

The second project will be the two-seat crewed Elevate version, and Hyundai sees this very much as a disaster relief machine for getting into devastated areas, where other vehicles fear to tread, and bringing injured people back out.

The 12,000 to 15,000-sq-ft (1,100 to 1,400-sq-m) Montana facility, says Hyundai, will put it directly in contact with researchers and professors in relevant fields, while also being close to a treasure trove of off-road trails and mountainous terrain, where these vehicles can be tested under all sorts of conditions. Ground will be broken on the new building next month, with a (presumably temporary) R&D office opening in the Innovation Campus next month as well.

Source: Hyundai

View gallery - 8 images
10 comments
10 comments
vince
Stupid concept as too too heavy and will tip over way too easily. To prevent this tje legs need to be mounted at highest point so that the body is close to ground level. This is how spiders do it.
Doug Lough
Concept looks cool and versatile, but I don’t see how those small articulated joints and drive train can hold up to the rigors shown in the video without making the legs much more massive. I know it’s not intended to be a competitive rock crawler, and would be great for exploration on a small scale. I just don’t see it as contender for military or any kind of payload application.
BlueOak
Interesting stuff if they can carry it off - but fancy renderings and plastic prototypes do not prove the concept.

Nothing personal, but for a global company like Hyundai to pair with Montana State University seems like an odd choice. Instead of a highly ranked design and or engineering university?
vince
These should have the legs mounted at the TOP of the car and then angled out like a spiders' for stability. This thing will tip over in a 50 mph wind it's ridiculously top heavy.
Daishi
It's for "devastated areas, where other vehicles fear to tread" but what does that even mean in terms of the real world? In the real world it's unlikely to be able to traverse any terrain you can't already reliable do in a rock crawler with 4 large wheels. Rock crawlers have the advantage of being inexpensive, reliable, and easy to repair. Large tires will hugely outperform this vehicle on muddy wet ground which is a common logistics problem when you need to move heavy equipment through places without proper road infrastructure.
JeffK
MSU campus is only 90 minutes from home, have to take a drive down this summer. Always worth the trip to Bozeman for a tour through the Museum of the Rockies, a fantastic experience that will take you from the dim mists of pre-history to the stars.
Eddy
Would definitely be more stable if the legs were anchored at the top of the roofline suspending the body underneath.
JeffK
@BlueOak - Montana State University in Bozeman is a highly regarded research and engineering school. MSU is rated number three in the west behind Stanford and Cal Tech for recipients of Goldwater Scholarships in math, science and engineering.
ljaques
I look forward to seeing both of these concepts turned whole and in production so we can see how innovative the purchasers can get in utilizing them.
Daishi
I want to see them compare it head to head over terrain with the Sherp or Atlas ATV. Both ironically from Ukraine but you can find them in the US.