Rugged, Autonomous Robots Ready for Search and Rescue

Robots are hitting the road and taking to the skies. Hyundai’s newly designed autonomous TIGER robot can drive and walk using intelligent technology that includes moveable legs. The robot can even take flight with the help of a UAV. With a variety of capabilities and potential uses, Hyundai’s TIGER could become a trendsetter in robotics and help emergency services agencies with search and rescue.  

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Image credit: Hyundai

Robotic vehicles are moving out of the testing phase and into development, and they may redefine the future of transportation, mobility, and even search and rescue. Hyundai Motor Group recently shared details of its new, highly agile smart robotic vehicle. 

Hyundai’s New Horizons Studio partnered with Autodesk and design consultant Sundberg-Ferar to develop an all-terrain robotic vehicle, the TIGER, or Transforming Intelligent Ground Excursion Robot. TIGER is Hyundai’s first uncrewed Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV). UMVs rely on robotics and automation technology packaged into an electronic vehicle design. The end result is a smart vehicle capable of navigating a variety of challenging scenarios and terrain all on its own. 

Hyundai’s initial UMV design was Elevate, an electric vehicle with four multi-joint legs that allowed the vehicle to walk, climb steps, and jump over obstacles as well as drive along roads. Elevate was designed to transport up to four people. Hyundai created Elevate to function as a shuttle or taxi vehicle to transport passengers–specifically those with limited mobility–or to help emergency services agencies with disaster response. 

Hyundai TIGER

Image credit: Hyundai

Robots in the Rough

The TIGER X-1 (Experimental-1) isHyundai’s first version of the TIGER, and this robot is following in Elevate’s footsteps. The autonomous TIGER robot was designed to navigate rough terrain and remote environments. The robot is roughly the size of a carry-on suitcase, so it cannot house humans inside like Elevate. 

However, the interior can hold supplies and emergency equipment. Hyundai designed the robot with a modular platform, which opens it up for various use cases in emergency services. For example, the robot could be used for search and rescue missions or to deliver supplies or water afternatural disasters, such as to an earthquake rubble zone where human rescue teams would have difficulty entering. 

Walk and Roll

The TIGER’s multipurpose moveable legs help the robot to both drive and walk. When the robot’s legs are retracted, rolling traction allows the robot to drive like a four-wheel drive car. The TIGER can extend its legs to walk or climb over obstacles, similar to Elevate’s walking capabilities. Each of the robot’s legs has six points of articulation that allow for such movement. 

The TIGER’s legs are constructed via Autodesk’s carbon fiber composite additive printing. This ensures that the legs are solid and durable but are still lightweight. Some elements of the TIGER’s frame are also made using carbon fiber composite additive printing. 

Wheel locomotion systems work to balance the TIGER. This helps keep supplies and other products placed inside the robot level, preventing them from getting spilled or damaged in transit. The robot also has 360-degree directional control and a symmetric design, so it can travel left to right as easily as forward and backward.

The TIGER is equipped with smart sensors to monitor the surrounding environment. Cameras and additional sensors could be attached to the robot for more exploratory usage. For example, Hyundai suggests that the robot could be used for future space exploration. 

Hyundai TIGER robot attached to UAV, flying in the air.

Image credit: Hyundai

A New TIGER in the Wild

This TIGER can also fly. The TIGER can attach to an​​unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can transport and then release the robot in inaccessible locations. The UAV can also charge the robot during that process.  

Hyundai plans to begin beta testing of the TIGER in 2023 or 2024, followed by advanced testing before the robot is available to the public. Hyundai states that the technology developed for TIGER and Elevate will allow the company to develop additional UMVs for other industry applications. 

In June of 2021, Hyundai acquired an 80 percent stake in Boston Dynamics, the creator of Spot, a dog-like robot capable of walking and jumping. Although Elevate and TIGER were under design before the acquisition, Hyundai expects the merger to increase its understanding of robotics and the development of UMVs.

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