Hyundai's walking robotic car. Picture: SUPPLIED
Hyundai's walking robotic car. Picture: SUPPLIED

Is it a robotic feline? Is it a car?

It’s kind of both, and this shape-shifting, Transformer-like vehicle is called the Tiger, an acronym for transforming intelligent ground excursion robot.

Hyundai’s new uncrewed ultimate mobility vehicle (UMV) concept can go where regular 4x4s fear to tread. It’s designed to carry payloads over remote and inaccessible terrain — and it can operate as either a four-wheel drive vehicle or a four-legged walking machine.

The vehicle is being developed by Hyundai Motor Group’s New Horizons Studio in California, in partnership with Autodesk and Sundberg-Ferar.

Hyundai has designed the Tiger to allow different bodies to be attached to the chassis for unique applications, such as cargo delivery or surveillance in locations not suitable for humans.

A car with robotic legs could save lives as the first responder in natural disasters; or people without access to a kerb ramp could hail a car to walk up to their front door, level itself and allow wheelchairs to roll in.

With its multi-segmented legs retracted, Tiger drives like an all-wheel drive vehicle. But when it encounters turf too tricky for wheels alone, it uses its walking ability to traverse terrain beyond the limitations of even the most capable 4x4.

Tiger’s all-terrain abilities enable it to function as a mobile, scientific exploration platform in extreme, remote locations, or even exploring the surface of another planet or moon. The vehicle has a load bay to carry goods, such as aid packages, which it can deliver in emergency situations, and the added benefit of its sophisticated leg and wheel locomotion system is that it can traverse extremely rough terrain while keeping payloads more level than a typical vehicle.

The Tiger is also intended to connect to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which can fully charge and deliver Tiger to inaccessible locations.

“Vehicles such as 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 redefine the future of transportation and mobility.”

droppad@arena.africa

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