Founded in 2020, New Horizons Studio is a division of Hyundai Motor Group tasked with designing futuristic mobility projects. Since its inception, the Studio has attracted widespread attention thanks to its Ultimate Mobility Vehicles (UMVs) concepts, such as the Hyundai Elevate. UMVs, in Hyundai’s vision, are vehicles capable of driving on any off-road terrain, either conducted by a human crew or unmanned. Think space rovers, but for the harshest off-road conditions on Earth.
The UMVs employ a combination of robotics and advanced locomotion technology to achieve the goal. The Elevate, for example, is a concept vehicle that can cross any rocky or rough area thanks to 4 electric wheels attached to extendable robotic “legs.” New Horizons Studio’s concepts seemed mostly a design exercise to explore the future of off-road mobility. Instead, with a surprising announcement, Hyundai has decided to fund the Studio with a $20 million investment over the next five years to try and manufacture its UMVs. The funds will go towards a new Research, Development, and Lab Center located within the Montana State University’s Innovation Campus in Bozeman, Montana. According to Hyundai’s estimate, the new facility will employ about 50 people.
“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”, explains the company. “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.”