Dog competition

Lunar mobility contest between automakers heats up

Automakers aren’t just competing in electric vehicles, some are racing to develop a “mobility solution” on the moon. Hyundai and Kia have just announced their intention to do the same, but differently.

Hyundai and Kia announced on Wednesday that they have signed joint research agreements with six South Korean research institutes to develop mobility solutions for exploring the moon.

For many, a mobility solution is some form of electrified vehicle, whether it’s a car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle or scooter. Over the past two years, automakers like General Motors, Toyota, and others have been developing lunar vehicles.

Hyundai and Kia announced on Wednesday that they have signed joint research agreements with six South Korean research institutes to develop mobility solutions for exploring the moon. However, if the pictures are any indication, their “solutions” won’t have wheels.

Automakers could start working with the groups as early as next month.

“We have taken the first step towards turning our vision of robotics and the concept of metamobility into reality,” said Yong Wha Kim, Executive Vice President and Head of R&D Planning and Coordination Center of Hyundai Motor and Kia. .

“We will expand the scope of human movement experience beyond traditional means of transportation and beyond the boundaries of the Earth to further contribute to the progress of mankind and help create a better future.”

Man on the Moon

Spot and Chung - Hyundai Robots
Euisun Chung, chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, is looking to use robotics to expand the company’s technology offerings.

If it’s not about finding a way for South Korean astronauts – and perhaps those from other countries in the future – to cross the surface of the moon, what are the automakers working on? Exploration equipment, software for mobility exploitation and remote communication functionality.

Companies, in particular Hyundai, have worked with a variety of different e-mobility technologies, ranging from air taxis to dismounted search and rescue vehicles and other transformer-type vehicles. The latest elements from its Elevate concepts introduced in September 2020.

Most of these ideas come from the company’s New Horizons studio and Hyundai CRADLE, its center for robotic-assisted design in life experiences. The company’s push in these areas comes from its commitment to robotics.

Hyundai Elevate Walking Taxi Concept
Hyundai is looking to expand its mobility efforts and develop the first Transformers-style vehicle.

In December 2020, Hyundai Motor Group acquired a majority stake in Boston Dynamics of SoftBank Group Corp. Hyundai owns an 80% stake in the company after the $1.1 billion deal closes.

“The synergies created by our union offer exciting new avenues for our businesses to achieve our goal – to provide free and safe travel and higher life experiences for humanity,” said Euisun Chung, Chairman of Hyundai, in a statement. communicated.

It is Chung’s first acquisition since taking over as head of Hyundai Motor Group in October, although his robotics ambitions are well known. He has previously said he expects robotics to make up 20% of Hyundai’s future business, with urban air mobility making up 30% and traditional auto manufacturing 50%.

The South Korean automaker plans to use Boston Dynamics’ experience with small wheeled robots, dog-like robots and even a two-legged robot named Atlas that can jump and somersault, to expand in the humanoid robot market, which could be critical in lunar exploration.

Hyundai Atlas REL robot
Hyundai’s two-legged robot named Atlas can jump and do somersaults may help the company grow in the humanoid robot market, which could be essential in lunar exploration.

Conversely, the environmental challenges the lunar surface presents could provide invaluable insight into the company’s automotive development efforts, particularly as they relate to autonomous vehicles.

Next steps

Hyundai and Kia have formed an internal advisory body with key personnel for the development and operation of mobility on the lunar surface. Resources will be put to use by the robotics laboratory of Hyundai and Kia in charge of the development of the robots.

Hyundai and Kia will also collaborate on software and hardware design and interpretation, space environment response technology and special equipment to conduct lunar exploration missions.

The multilateral agreement to develop mobility to explore the surface of the Moon represents a watershed moment in the history of Hyundai Motor and Kia that extends their vision of future mobility, including robotics and AAM, to areas beyond the Earth.

The two automotive brands also plan to secure proprietary technologies for future mobility companies as part of the new development of lunar exploration mobility robotics.