TIGER gets a leg up

Riley Riley

Hyundai has taken the wraps off its second Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV) dubbed TIGER.

The acronym stands for Transforming Intelligent Ground Excursion Robot and is designed to operate without a human crew.

TIGER is being developed by Hyundai’s New Horizons Studio in California.

It’s designed to function as a mobile scientific exploration platform in extreme, remote locations, with a sophisticated leg and wheel locomotion system, 360-degree directional control, and a range of sensors for remote observation.

TIGER is also intended to connect to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which can fully charge and deliver the vehicle to inaccessible locations.

A large load bay housed within its body means TIGER can carry goods for delivery, or be deployed to deliver aid packages in emergency situations.

Leg-wheel articulation enables TIGER to tackle a range of extreme situations while keeping payloads more level than a typical ground vehicle.

With its legs retracted, however, it drives like an all-wheel drive vehicle and is in its most efficient mode because it moves by rolling traction.

But when the vehicle gets stuck or needs to travel over terrain that is difficult or impassable for wheels alone, it uses its walking ability to get unstuck or more easily travel over that terrain.

This feature was previewed in Elevate, Hyundai’s first-ever UMV concept with moveable legs, which debuted at the 2019 Consumer Electronic Show (CES).

The difference between Elevate and TIGER is that, while the former can carry passengers — the latter is uncrewed.

Both TIGER and Elevate blend robotic and wheeled locomotion technologies, allowing them to traverse terrain beyond the limitations of even the most capable off-road vehicle.

The first version of TIGER is X-1 (the X stands for experimental) and brings together a wide-range of technological and design expertise.

The project is being led by Hyundai Motor Group’s New Horizons Studio, while working in close partnership with Autodesk, a leading engineering design software company.

TIGER X-1 fuses Autodesk’s generative design capabilities with Hyundai’s growing R&D capabilities in mobility.

The teams have been working together to create a lightweight but incredibly strong structure, with the legs and certain chassis elements created using carbon fiber composite additive printing.

Collaborating with external concept design experts Sundberg-Ferar, New Horizons Studio has been developing TIGER X-1 to deliver and retrieve critical payloads across rugged terrain.

These capabilities make the concept vehicle ideal for 360-degree surface evaluation, in areas struck by natural disaster, while tackling challenging terrain, or even exploring the surface of another moon or planet.


New Horizons Studio, headquartered in Mountain View, California, develops vehicles with unprecedented mobility.

Products from the studio target users with a need for travel and mobility across unconventional and off-road terrains, including places that cannot be reached by conventional wheeled vehicles.

UMVs developed by New Horizons Studio can be subject to more challenging applications and environments, and adaptable to changing conditions.​

​New Horizons Studio has been focused on developing technologies to enable concept vehicles such as TIGER.

These technologies include wheel-leg locomotion, high-performance materials and structures, high-performance power systems, chassis and body systems, virtual development and evaluation systems, and human-centered design and systems.

Each of these represents significant technical progress that can be applied to any vehicle and will speed the development of advanced mobility solutions.

It’s all part of Hyundai’s vision to shape the future of mobility and brings onboard forward-thinking, innovative leadership from Silicon Valley and other innovation hubs.

UMV concepts in development do not rely solely on wheels and are expected to address challenging driving situations – for example, a car with robotic legs could save lives as the first responder in natural disasters; or people without access to a curb ramp could hail a car to walk up to their front door, level itself and allow wheelchairs to roll in.

Using a combination of robotics and wheeled locomotion technology, Elevate, TIGER and other vehicles by New Horizons Studio are expected to redefine vehicular mobility.


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