Is this creepy or cool to you? It is Hyundai’s “Ultimate Mobility Vehicle”, or UMV. Or more accurately, a robot truck with legs. And Hyundai isn’t just working on this truck with legs, it is building an entire development center in Montana around its latest creation. It’s called New Horizons Studio and is scheduled to open at Montana State University’s Innovation Campus next month.
What is New horizons Studio for?
Right now, the plan is to first build the $20 million facility and staff it with 50 people. Then it wants to jump-start its walking truck gizmo. Of course, NHS will be able to collaborate with and utilize the MSU campus students.
The goal of the endeavor is to “redefine vehicular mobility with robotics and wheeled locomotion technology.” Dr. John Suh, Vice President of New Horizons, says “We aim to create the world’s first transformer-class vehicle, also known as the Ultimate Mobility Vehicle.”
What attracted Hyundai to build the New Horizons Studio in Montana?
So, why Montana? Well, the beautiful outdoors is one good reason. But the company says that it is the perfect place to test this wheeled locomotion technology surrounded by “dozens of off-road trails with more than 150 miles of terrain and mountain access.” That may be true, but in the end, it all comes down to money.
Montana Governor Greg Gianforte’s Montana Entrepreneur Magnet Act angles for more business ventures coming to the state. Among other things, it offers large tax breaks for those businesses picking the state. Like imposing zero-percent taxes.
The New Horizons Studio will ramp up its work over a five-year period. If you look at its logo, you can see a stylized UMV. So this isn’t just hype, Hyundai really intends on making these walking trucks. The studio will house prototyping machines, testing equipment, and composted material development and testing, as well as providing application development and field testing.
Is the Hyundai Elevate a robot?
The company first unveiled the “Hyundai Elevate” UMV concept at the CES show in 2019. It could be used as a first responder in a natural disaster. Also, for those in wheelchairs without access to mobility because an ADA ramp is not available. It could walk up to a front door, drop to the ground, and allow someone in a wheelchair to roll into it.
The next UMV Hyundai developed was the autonomous “transforming intelligent ground excursion robot.” It debuted at the 2021 CES show. This UMV would slog through rough terrain for hauling different payloads.
Besides UMVs, we know that Hyundai is also in the middle of developing flying taxis, and other future tech solutions. With this new facility, it will be interesting to see what is developed and how fast they might actually become available to businesses and consumers.