Did Hyundai Pay $1 Billion for a Robotics Company to Build a Walking Car?
If you’ve never heard the name Boston Dynamics before, you’re not alone. Despite some viral videos with their dog-like autonomous robot named Spot, the company remains relatively low key. However, Hyundai just reportedly purchased the robotics company for just shy of $1 billion. According to Roadshow, Boston Dynamic’s tech could potentially apply to new vehicle design. If anything, this merger reminds us of the walking car concept Hyundai debuted at CES last year.
Hyundai may have just saved Boston Dynamics
While Boston Dynamics is clearly capable of building some remarkable machines, the business struggled before Hyundai’s recent move. According to Gizmodo, Boston Dynamics remains unprofitable and has changed hands several times. Gizmodo reports that Google purchased the company in 2013 to sell it to the SoftBank Group in 2017. From that partnership, Spot the dog-like robot finally went on sale to explore places not suitable for humans. Gizmodo reports that sales of the robot generated around $30 million in revenue for the company.
According to RoadShow, Hyundai has been making a considerable move to invest in new tech, hoping to develop autonomous vehicles. When we consider this, acquiring Boston Dynamics for nearly $1 billion begins to make sense. When you consider that the Hyundai Motor Group owns Genesis, Kia, and Hyundai, this significant investment could trickle down to many models.
How does a robot dog result in a walking car?
Before this recent acquisition, Hyundai was already flirting with the idea of building a walking car. In fact, the Korean carmaker unveiled the Elevate concept last year at CES. In short, the concept vehicle can both walk and drive. According to Top Gear, the walking car is already undergoing development. In an interview with Top Gear, VP of Hyundai, Dr. John Suh, said: “We aim to create the world’s first transformer-class vehicle.”
Top Gear reports that Hyundai is planning on building a vehicle with first responders in mind. In short, the ability to switch from rolling to walking would allow these vehicles to reach remote places to conduct rescue operations potentially. Even more surprisingly, Top Gear reports that Hyundai claims this new vehicle will be capable of climbing a five-foot wall. On top of that, it will be able to walk over a five-foot gap and achieve a 15 ft wide track width.
When you consider these goals, Boston Dynamics has been developing similar tech on a much smaller scale with its Spot robot. When you consider these variables, it becomes easier to see how Hyundai may use this new tech. As of writing, the only info we know about the walking car is that it is in development. We have yet to see any prototypes or spy photos.
Will the walking car be an EV?
As if Hyundai’s walking car concept wasn’t futuristic enough, it’s also reportedly an EV. According to Top Gear, the Elevate walking car concept rides on a modular EV platform. The word “modular” makes us think of how this design and architecture could potentially be applied to other vehicles in the future.
As of writing, Hyundai sells just two EVs, the Ioniq and the Kona. However, the Korean carmaker has already announced it will introduce more EVs shortly. However, if anything, this newest story tells us Hyundai has some serious plans for the future.