Hyundai is working on a driverless car that can also turn into a ‘walking machine’

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Drew Angerer | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The Hyundai Motor Group has released details of a concept vehicle designed to function as both a four-wheel-drive car and a “four-legged walking machine,” in the latest example of how ideas on mobility and logistics are changing.

According to a statement from the South Korean automotive giant Wednesday, the vehicle — known as TIGER, or transforming intelligent ground excursion robot — has been designed to operate without a crew and in “extreme, remote locations.”

A team from Hyundai’s California-based New Horizons Studio has been working alongside U.S. firms Autodesk and Sundberg-Ferar on the project’s development.

In the real world, it’s envisaged that TIGER would undertake tasks such as delivering items and distributing emergency aid packages.

If the vehicle needs to traverse tricky terrain not conducive to wheel-based transport or becomes stuck, its “walking ability” can be used to rectify the situation so the journey can continue. 

As technology develops and consumer habits change, the sight of unmanned vehicles hauling cargo could become commonplace in both urban and rural locations. 

Already, drones have been used to deliver medication to remote spots, while firms such as Starship Technologies specialize in self-driving robots that deliver takeout and other items.

Elsewhere, companies such as Lilium are working on vertical take-off air taxis to ferry passengers between cities. 

Hyundai’s development of the TIGER vehicle represents its latest foray into technologies and systems focused on the future of mobility.

Back in December, it announced it would acquire a controlling interest in Boston Dynamics from SoftBank in a deal which valued the Massachusetts-based company at $1.1 billion. The deal is expected to close by June of this year.

Boston Dynamics specializes in the development of what it describes as “mobile-robots.” These include the four-legged Spot, which can undertake a range of tasks.

Last year, for example, world-leading architecture practice Foster + Partners said it had been using Spot to gather data from a construction site and map out a digital twin of its office space.

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