Hyundai has just revealed an all-new driverless four-wheel-drive electric model, but it's not one you'll see at a dealer any time soon. It's called the Tiger, and it's a drone-like model designed to carry payloads in places where people and conventional vehicles can't go.
Tiger stands for Transforming Intelligent Ground Excursion Robot, and Hyundai calls the rolling and walking transport robot the company's second Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV) and the first to not need a crew. Hyundai uses the word "uncrewed" to show that while there is nobody on board, it's not autonomous. Controlled by a human operating remotely, it can even be dropped into inaccessible areas.
The Tiger is being developed by Hyundai's New Horizons design studio in California in partnership with software firm Autodesk and industrial designers Sundberg-Ferar. The Hyundai studio started late last year with the intention of working with Silicon Valley to develop UMVs like this one.
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The Tiger is modular, able to roll on four wheels and can also walk using its articulated legs to cover tough terrain. The default is wheeled travel with the legs folded, which is the most efficient method. It can hold goods and cargo for delivery to remote areas or can take emergency aid packages to places where they might not otherwise be able to be delivered.
“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 in a press release. “We are constantly looking at ways to rethink vehicle design and development and re-define the future of transportation and mobility.”
While the design may not directly relate to Hyundai's cars, Autodesk VP of Business Strategy for Design and Manufacturing Srinath Jonnalagadda said that the new way of looking at design is valuable for transportation. "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 possibilities," the executive said.
Expect more innovative projects from the New Horizons Studio, as Hyundai sees an important role in mobility services for ideas like the wheel-leg movement, new power systems, and high-performance materials and structures. Hyundai gives the examples of a car with robotic legs for responders in natural disasters, or for those without access to a curb ramp to have easier access to ride-hailing vehicles.