Has Hyundai unveiled the future of last-mile delivery?
Autonomous delivery vehicle concepts seem to be popping up by the minute, many by upstart companies looking to cash in on a market expected to reach nearly $40 billion in the U.S. alone by 2030. Not all the companies are new to transportation, though. Some have long histories of developing innovative concepts and solutions in transportation.
Hyundai Motor Group is one of those. The company’s New Horizons Studio, based in Mountain View, California, has unveiled its concept of an unmanned delivery vehicle. Transforming Intelligent Ground Excursion Robot (TIGER) has been built in collaboration with New Horizon’s partners Autodesk and Sundberg-Ferar.
“Vehicles like TIGER, and the technologies underpinning it, give us an opportunity to push our imaginations,” said John Suh, head of New Horizons Studio. “We are constantly looking at ways to rethink vehicle design and development and redefine the future of transportation and mobility.”
TIGER, officially classified as an Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV), is based on a modular platform and designed with a leg-and-wheel locomotion system that has 360-degree directional control and a range of sensors for remote observation. The legs can be retracted for easy driving as an all-wheel-drive vehicle. When TIGER encounters difficult terrain, the legs extend and can “walk” the vehicle through the obstacles.
“The benefit of having leg-and-wheel locomotion means that TIGER can keep the payload more level than conventional suspensions when traveling across uneven terrain or climbing over obstacles,” said Suh.
Sundberg-Ferar assisted New Horizons in creating this capability, which makes TIGER an option for delivering critical supplies to remote areas — the vehicle is designed to be carried (and charged) by a drone.
“While developing TIGER with New Horizons Studio, the team at Sundberg-Ferar was looking to create a robot that maximized the efficiency of wheeled motion with the articulation of a quadruped to expand the possibility of reaching more remote locations,” said David Byron, manager of design and innovation strategy at Sundberg-Ferar. “TIGER is a modular platform design allowing different bodies to be attached to the chassis for unique applications such as cargo delivery or surveillance in locations not suitable for humans.”
TIGER has a cargo-carrying section, making it a potential solution for last-mile deliveries. Hyundai has not released details on how much cargo it can handle, but the concept is based on the Elevate, a similar vehicle developed by Hyundai and debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2019. Elevate is a passenger-carrying vehicle.
The first iteration of TIGER, the X-1, was developed by using Autodesk’s Fusion 360 design platform. Fusion 360 is an integrated program encompassing design, engineering, electronics and manufacturing into a single platform.
With the use of Fusion 360, Hyundai and Autodesk were able to create TIGER’s legs, chassis, tires and wheels using carbon fiber composite additive printing.
“Working closely with the team at Hyundai on the TIGER X-1 vehicle, using advanced technology such as generative design to push the boundaries of increasing strength while reducing weight in transportation, is exactly what we mean when we talk about creating the new possible,” said Srinath Jonnalagadda, vice president of business strategy for design and manufacturing at Autodesk. “New design, engineering and manufacturing techniques enabled by Autodesk Fusion 360 help today’s modern, collaborative teams get to production faster and more efficiently.”