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.


Japan: G20 summit to debate trade including WTO reform

Updated 12 min 10 sec ago
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Japan: G20 summit to debate trade including WTO reform

  • Japan, which chairs this year’s G20 gatherings, will take a neutral stance in the US-China trade row
  • More ‘concrete’ discussions on trade policy will take place at the G20 Osaka summit

TOKYO: Substantial discussions on trade, including reform of the World Trade Organization, will likely take place at a summit of Group of 20 major economies next week in Osaka, a senior Japanese finance ministry official said on Wednesday.
Japan, which chairs this year’s G20 gatherings, will take a neutral stance in the US-China trade row and urge countries to resolve tensions with a multilateral framework, said Masatsugu Asakawa, vice finance minister for international affairs.
“With regard to differences (on trade) between the United States and China, Japan of course won’t take sides. We will also not take any steps that go against WTO rules,” said Asakawa, who oversaw the G20 finance leaders’ gathering earlier this month.
“Japan will continue to take a multilateral approach in promoting free trade,” he told a news conference.
China and the United States, the world’s two largest economies, are in the middle of a costly trade dispute that has pressured financial markets and damaged the world economy.
Markets are focused on whether US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping can narrow their differences when they sit down at the G20 summit.
The bitter trade war has forced the International Monetary Fund to cut its global growth forecast and overshadowed the G20 meetings that conclude with the Osaka summit on June 28-29.
At the finance leaders’ gathering, the G20 issued a communique warning that trade and geopolitical tensions have “intensified” and that policymakers stood ready to take further action against such risks.
“The macro-economic impact (of the trade tensions) is an issue of concern,” Asakawa said, conceding it took considerable time for G20 finance ministers and central bank heads to agree on their communique’s language on trade.
More “concrete” discussions on trade policy will take place at the G20 Osaka summit, he added.
The row over trade appeared to spread to currency policy when Trump criticized European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s dovish comments as aimed at weakening the euro to give the region’s exports an unfair trade advantage.
Asakawa rebuffed the view the Bank of Japan’s massive stimulus program could also provoke the ire of Trump.
He also said the G20 shared an understanding that members would accept any exchange-rate moves driven by ultra-easy monetary policies as long as the measures are not directly aimed at manipulating currencies.
“The BOJ’s ultra-easy policy is aimed at beating deflation, not at manipulating exchange rates. That’s understood widely among the G20 economies,” he said.
Fears of the widening fallout from the trade war have heightened market expectations the US Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates this year. Draghi said on Tuesday the ECB will ease again if inflation fails to accelerate.
The dovish tone of other central banks has piled pressure on the BOJ, though many analysts expect it to keep policy steady at least at this week’s rate review.