Hyundai shows off walking car project

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David Byron of Sundberg-Ferar, an industrial design consultancy, which is working with Hyundai on the Elevate project, shows a small-scale model on the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (AFP)
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A small-scale model of the Elevate, called the Ultimate Mobility Vehicle, on display at Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (AFP)
Updated 08 January 2019
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Hyundai shows off walking car project

  • Hyundai showed off its Elevate project on the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show gadget extravaganza
  • For Hyundai, the project is also a chance to demonstrate that, like rival car makers, the company is pursuing innovation

LAS VEGAS: South Korean car maker Hyundai on Monday gave a look at work it is doing on a vehicle with robotic legs to let it walk or crawl over treacherous terrain.
Hyundai showed off its Elevate project on the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show gadget extravaganza, billing it an unprecedented “Ultimate Mobility Vehicle” that combines technology from electric cars with robotics.
“What if a car designed with robotics could save lives in disasters,” said Hyundai executive John Suh, who heads a Cradle arm of the company devoted to innovation.
“The need for search and rescue, and humanitarian aid, is growing around the world.”
Elevate is designed with four mechanical legs with wheels for feet, according to a small-scale model shown at the press event.
Elevate vehicles can roll along on extended legs or retract them to be driven like a car.
Extended legs could also be used to climb or crawl while keeping the passenger compartment level, according to David Byron of Sundberg-Ferar, an industrial design consultancy, which is working with Hyundai on the project.
“This design is uniquely capable of both mammalian and reptilian walking gaits, allowing it to move in any direction,” Hyundai said in a release.
Elevate can climb over walls as high as five feet (1.5 meters) while keeping the vehicle body level with the ground, Byron said.
Hyundai has been working on the walking car for three years, according to the company.
Examples of how this might be used included being able to carefully extract injured people from disaster zones or rugged terrain.
“It can go where no vehicle has gone before,” Suh said.
A scaled-down model of Elevate along with video of how it would perform were displayed at the CES press event.
“This technology goes well beyond emergency situations — people living with disabilities could hail an autonomous Hyundai Elevate that could walk up to their front door, level itself, and allow their wheelchair to roll right in,” Suh said.
“The possibilities are limitless.”
For example, an Elevate stuck in snow on a roadside could get up and walk back to lanes of traffic, or the vehicle could be put to work exploring other planets.
AutoPacific market research vice president Daniel Hall considered the Hyundai project “interesting,” noting that while robotic vehicles are already used by the military to deal with bombs “climbing obstacles in certain situations can be helpful.”
For Hyundai, the project is also a chance to demonstrate that, like rival car makers, the company is pursuing innovation, Hall added.


Energy Recap: The oil market wavers

Updated 21 min 19 sec ago
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Energy Recap: The oil market wavers

RIYADH: Oil prices went in different directions at the end of the week. Brent deteriorated to $67.03 per barrel and WTI rose to $59.04 per barrel, but both remain at four-month highs. 
Still, poor economic signals that added to the generally bearish mood did not manage to drive oil prices down because of the tightening global supplies that led the surprise drawdown in US inventories.
The 10 million barrels fall in US crude stocks was the largest drop since July 2018, due to a combination of strong exports and higher refining utilization. 
The reduced number of US oil rigs for a fourth week running sent drilling activity to its lowest in nearly a year.
The current level of oil prices does not reflect the market’s relatively strong fundamentals and supply tightness.
The Arabian Gulf sour crude grades have seen extensive buying activity with refiners securing spot cargoes in addition to their term cargoes.
Such high demand for the sour medium and heavy crude grades had Dubai crude in high demand.
Asian refiners are becoming increasingly concerned about the tightening supplies for the medium and heavy crude grade.
That is because many of them lack the flexibility to swiftly switch their refining systems to handle alternative light sweet crude grades that have low sulfur content. 
The market remains preoccupied with Iranian sanction waivers, which may be extended for another round of six months.
Given the tight oil market that has been further exacerbated by the sanctions on Venezuela, the second half of this year might experience further tightening.
The US is widely expected to continue extending the waivers for the key importing countries which are China, India, Korea and Japan. 
The a potential second round of waivers may not impact the market as much as last time in November 2018 when the price dropped by as much as $30 per barrel.
Helped by OPEC output cuts, the market has been stabilizing gradually even if not entirely recovering those early losses.
The current market appears too tight to be moved significantly by further waivers and should be able to absorb additional barrels — be they from Iran, Venezuela, Libya or the US.
Even with the last round of waivers, Iranian oil exports did not exceed 1.25 million barrels per day in February.

  • Faisal Mrza is an energy and oil market adviser. He was formerly with OPEC and Saudi Aramco. Reach him on Twitter: @faisalmrza