Hyundai aims for space

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Hyundai Motor Group Aims for Space Exploration, Starts Building Advanced Lunar Rover.

You might not know this, but besides producing vehicles, Hyundai Motor Group has various initiatives regarding robotics. The brand announced it started building a lunar exploration rover development model after teaming up with aerospace partners.

By: Mircea Mazuru

Hyundai Motor Group’s core vision is clear and concise: “Progress for Humanity.” This is the main reason why the company is working hard on developing the field of robotics. It has devised three key technologies: Wearable Robots, Service Robots, and Robotic Mobility. For instance, it’s come up with robotic exoskeletons designed for both industrial and medical uses.

Even though you might not have heard of some of their projects, you might be familiar with Boston Dynamics – Hyundai acquired it in 2021 for a staggering $880 million intending to accelerate its strategic transformation into a smart mobility solution provider.

The company focuses on expanding the human reach and offering innovative mobility solutions using robotics, AI (artificial intelligence), and autonomous driving technologies. One of their more recent projects seeks to move beyond land, sea, and air into space.

In July 2022, the Group signed a research agreement with six Korean research institutes in the aerospace sector, including the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI) and the Electronics and Telecommunication Research Institute (ETRI). Together, they run and support a consultative body with the aim of creating a mobility solution for lunar surface exploration.

After discussing with stakeholders, Hyundai Motor Group came up with the initial direction for the lunar exploration mobility development model. It estimates that the initial test units will be completed by the second half of next year. Next, the goal is to develop a model with launch capability in 2027.

The Group will integrate Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation’s robotics and autonomous driving technologies, charging parts, and driving systems. Furthermore, it will use Hyundai Rotem’s (a subsidiary specializing in manufacturing rolling stock, military equipment, and plant engineering) technology.

The rover is designed to carry various pieces of equipment on top, with a maximum payload of 70 kg (154 lbs.). Furthermore, it will be equipped with various technologies for digging and excavation. It will operate autonomously, drawing power via solar panels.

In the lower section, you’ll find the Group’s components, which will serve as a mobility platform. The machine will be engineered to withstand extreme temperatures, with built-in radiation shielding, to tackle the harsh environments of the lunar surface.

Hyundai Motor Group will develop an environment similar to the moon’s surface to conduct intensive testing for the rover and make all the necessary refinements. If everything turns out successful, the goal is to land the rover near the moon’s south pole, where it will carry out scientific missions. Hopefully, we’ll get to see some footage of the lunar rover in action.

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