The South Korean automotive giant Hyundai announced a development and test facility in Montana for its walking car.
Hyundai has a planned investment goal of $20 million over the next five years for its New Horizons Studio, which will employ 50 people.
It will be located in Montana State University’s Innovation Campus in Bozeman, Montana and it will be “a unit focused on the development of Ultimate Mobility Vehicles”, Hyundai said in a press release.
“Montana is quickly becoming a hub for high-tech companies and entrepreneurs with a growing talent pool of skilled labor in the field of engineering, research and natural science,” said Dr. John Suh, head of New Horizons Studio and vice president, Hyundai Motor Group. “Bozeman is a thriving and economic micropolitan city. Nestled near dozens of off-road trails with more than 150 miles of terrain and mountain access for UMV testing – it’s the perfect fit for our new R&D Lab.”
Hyundai’s concepts will become a reality
Hyundai first unveiled the Elevate concept back in 2019, showing off an all-terrain vehicle that would be practically unstoppable due to the fact that it could drive on its wheels and also walk on rough terrain.
The concept vehicle shown in the video above has four electrically driven wheels, each of which is mounted on a robotic leg with several articulations, allowing them to bend and swivel at different points. The design allows the vehicle to lift itself over obstacles and also step down from ledges.
The TIGER concept, revealed last year, is a smaller, autonomous four-legged walking car devised for remote operation with potential applications in space exploration, mining, logistics, and construction. Hyundai will first work on making the TIGER concept a reality before moving on to the two-seater crewed Elevate. The company said the Elevate will be built to handle “challenging driving situations and it could potentially save lives as the first responder in natural disasters.” If all goes according to plan, the first Elevate unveiling could go down as the most viral vehicle launch since Tesla’s Cybertruck.
New Horizons Studio Bozeman
Located inside Montana State University’s (MSU) Innovation Campus, New Horizons Studio’s all-new Bozeman facility will focus on:
- Product design and development
- Market research and assessment
- Testing operations
- Composted material development and testing
- Next-generation vehicle architectures
- End-user/commercial production and smart assembly
New Horizons Studio plans to add more than 50 full-time jobs at the location over the next five years. Many of the positions will be in the research and development space and will target expertise in mechanical hardware, electrical and electronics engineering, and materials and manufacturing.
The estimated 12,000 to 15,000 sq. ft. facility will be part of MSU’s 42-acre Innovation Campus development which is home to many technology and bio-tech businesses. As a part of this group, NHS Bozeman will also have the opportunity to collaborate and work closely with the MSU student population as well as have access to state-of-the-art research and world class professors.
The Industry Building that will house NHS Bozeman will break ground starting in June 2022, while the first R&D office officially opens in June 2022.
“This is a great day for Montana. We moved quickly to capitalize on Hyundai Motor Group’s interest in our state, make this a reality, and bring more good-paying jobs to Montana. An innovative, global company investing in manufacturing and innovation, Hyundai Motor Group’s decision to bring its new facility to Montana and invest in our state is a testament to our business-friendly environment and Montanans’ strong work ethic,” said Montana Governor Greg Gianforte. “We’re thrilled our close personal relationships, outstanding business climate, talented workforce, and quality of life are attracting international attention. Montana is open for business to the world.”
Ultimate Mobility Vehicles
New Horizon Studio’s mission is to build vehicles for future customers who want or need to travel over terrains which are challenging for conventional ground vehicles. The applications for UMVs include natural resource management, disaster management, all-urban and rural logistics, construction, mining and space resource development.
At NHS Bozeman, the team will initially focus on refining the development, testing and deployment of two UMV models. The first is an uncrewed transforming intelligent ground excursion robot (similar to what was revealed at CES in 2021) designed to carry various types of payloads while traveling over treacherous terrain. The second, inspired by Elevate, is a larger (size of a two-person ATV) vehicle with robotic legs that can address challenging driving situations and potentially save lives as the first responder in natural disasters.