Hyundai Motor used CES in Las Vegas as the platform to describe its new “Metamobility concept”, which will incorporate the use of robotics in both the real world and the metaverse to allow “unlimited freedom of mobility” unconstrained by the physical limitations of movement in time and space.
The company also introduced its new Mobility of Things (MoT) concept wherein traditionally inanimate objects will gain mobility using robotics, along with the Plug & Drive (PnD) and Drive & Lift (DnL) modular platforms as all-in-one solutions for the MoT ecosystem.
Robotics is an essential part of Hyundai Motor’s transformation into a smart mobility solution provider. Having acquired Boston Dynamics, an innovator in the field, Hyundai Motor has sharpened its focus on advancing robotics to enhance people’s lives through a range of mobility solutions. The company sees robotics and mobility as complementary in that one accelerates development of the other, and vice versa. Together, they form a synergistic combination that will add value to the business and drive progress for humanity, starting with a robotics-based Mobility of Things (MoT) ecosystem.
At Hyundai, we are harnessing the power of robotics to achieve great things. We envision future mobility solutions made possible by advanced robotics—even expanding our mobility solutions to Metamobility. This vision will enable unlimited freedom of movement and progress for humanity.—Euisun Chung, the Group’s Executive Chair
With the metaverse set to become a daily space for people in the future, the company expects the possible emergence of a new type of metaverse platform in which the distinction from reality could disappear, breaking away from the concept of VR as the world knows it today.
What only used to be a virtual experience due to technological limitations can now be reflected in the real world through the connection of smart devices, enabling users to have unlimited freedom of movement between the two worlds. Hyundai Motor defines the concept of such experiences as Metamobility.
Hyundai Motor expects that mobilities, such as automobiles and UAM, will serve as smart devices to access virtual spaces, while robotics will act as a medium to connect the virtual and real worlds. For example, an automobile that connects to virtual spaces can allow users to enjoy various in-car VR experiences. Depending on the user’s needs, a car can be transformed into an entertainment space, a meeting room for work or even a 3D video game platform.
Unlike the current incarnation of VR in which user experiences are not reflected in the real world due to technological limitations, future metaverse users will be able to affect changes in the real world through robotics and digital twin technology, a virtual representation of a physical object, place or process that will be made possible by further advancements in sensors and actuators.
For example, when a user accesses a digital twin of their home in the metaverse while away from their physical home, they will be able to feed and hug a pet in Korea through the use of an avatar robot. This will allow users to enjoy real world experiences through VR.
Through Metamobility, robots will help people overcome the physical limitations of time and space, providing a means for connecting and interacting in the metaverse. Hyundai Motor envisions a metaverse using robots as a medium between the real and virtual worlds, enabling people to actually change and transform things in the real world through a metaverse and robot connection.
This metaverse-robot connection will allow the user to guide a robot in the real world, such as in a smart factory. This will enable a next-generation digital model for plant management and manufacturing by enabling remote specialists to connect to all machines and assets within the factory, and perform remote tasks through a direct physical connection using robots and VR. For example, a worker would interact with a robotic avatar in the metaverse via VR interface and hand controls to manipulate things in the real world using a proxy robot at the remote work site.
The idea behind Metamobility is that space, time and distance will all become irrelevant. By connecting robots to the metaverse, we will be able to move freely between both the real world and virtual reality. Going one step further from the immersive ‘be there’ proxy experience that the metaverse provides, robots will become an extension of our own physical senses, allowing us to reshape and enrich our daily lives with Metamobility.—Chang Song, President and Head of Transportation-as-a-Service (TaaS) Division of Hyundai Motor Group
Hyundai Motor also revealed its Plug & Drive (PnD) and Drive & Lift (DnL) modular platforms as all-in-one solutions for its unlimited Mobility of Things (MoT) ecosystem, wherein traditionally inanimate things, from small objects to community spaces, will gain mobility using the company’s robotics technologies.
The PnD module is a single-wheel robotics platform that combines intelligent steering, braking, in-wheel electric drive and suspension hardware that can be scaled up or down, for any purpose, size or application. LiDAR and camera sensors allow a PnD-enabled object to move autonomously.
With infinite flexibility and scalability, the PnD module can provide mobility to normally inanimate things, from small objects to community spaces. Its applications seem limitless, providing freedom of movement for people with disabilities, automated logistics, reconfigurable interior space and public transportation with individual compartments for social distancing and last mile mobility.
In the world to come, we will not move our things, but things will actually move around us with the PnD module making traditionally inanimate objects mobile. We are directing all our ambitious robotics engineering and creative efforts towards realizing an even bigger vision than ever—the unlimited Mobility of Things ecosystem.—Dong Jin Hyun, Vice President and Head of Hyundai Motor Group Robotics Lab
Hyundai Motor also exhibited the MobED (Mobile Eccentric Droid) small mobility platform that uses the DnL module, an eccentric wheel mechanism, combining the drive, steering and braking systems in one structure. With DnL mounted on each wheel, MobED can lift the platform up and down, so the body can stay level as MobED traverses uneven terrain or low barriers such as steps or speed bumps.