Hyundai demos unmanned transport study

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The highly versatile and intelligent ground excursion robot TIGER (Transforming Intelligent Ground Excursion Robot) is Hyundai’s second “Ultimate Mobility Vehicle” (UMV) and the first unmanned one. The vehicle is designed to carry payloads of various types over rough terrain.

The TIGER is modular and includes, among other things, a sophisticated locomotion system with retractable “legs” and wheels, 360-degree steering, numerous sensors and communication channels for remote monitoring. Combined use with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is also envisaged, which can fully charge TIGER and take it to inaccessible locations.

In its cargo space, TIGER can transport goods – one of the scenarios of TIGER’s developers is the delivery of relief supplies in emergency situations. The mobility of its legs and wheels enable it to cope with extreme situations in inhospitable terrain while keeping the transported goods in a secured position compared to a conventional ground vehicle.

When its legs are retracted, TIGER drives like a four-wheel drive vehicle and operates most efficiently as it moves – like a normal wheeled vehicle – by the rotational force of its four wheels. However, when it gets stuck or has to negotiate terrain that is barely passable or not passable at all in this way, the robot uses its walking ability to move forward – a feature that TIGER’s predecessor Elevate already had, which was unveiled at CES 2019. Unlike Elevate, however, TIGER is unmanned.

In the TIGER project, the vehicle’s creators brought together diverse technology and design approaches. The first version of TIGER, which has now been unveiled, bears the suffix X-1, where the “X” stands for experimental. The vehicle combines the generative design of development partner Autodesk with Hyundai Motor Group’s research and development expertise in mobility. The teams worked together to design a lightweight yet extremely strong structure. The legs and some chassis elements were 3D printed from carbon fibre composites.

The New Horizons Studio develops vehicles with particularly high mobility capabilities. The products are tailored to the mobility needs of users who move on difficult terrain that cannot be reached with conventional wheeled vehicles. In addition, these Ultimate Mobility Vehicles are flexibly adaptable to changing conditions.

The studio’s focus is on developing technologies that make concepts like TIGER possible. These include wheeled and legged locomotion, high-performance materials, structures and propulsion systems, chassis and body systems, virtual development and evaluation systems, and user-centred design and systems.

The UMVs should be able to be used in unusual and extreme situations, for example as a means of transporting relief supplies after natural disasters. The goal of Elevate, TIGER and other developments of the studio is to redefine vehicle mobility by combining robotics and rolling locomotion technology.

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