Hyundai’s walking cars step closer to reality with opening of $20 million development center

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BOZEMAN, Montana — Science fiction is a step closer to reality. Hyundai’s walking car designs will finally move forward with the opening of a $20 million development center.

Hyundai’s New Horizon Studio (NHS) say their mission is to build vehicles for future customers who want or need to travel over terrains which are challenging for conventional ground vehicles. The unit will focus on the development of Ultimate Mobility Vehicles (UMVs), at a new Research, Development and Lab Center in Bozeman, Montana.

The South Korean firm previously showcased designs for UMVs at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2019. The Elevate concept, seen at CES, will inspire 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.

Hyundai Elevate
A Hyundai Elevate climbs itself out of a snow covered ditch. (Credit: Hyundai’s New Horizon Studio)

A second design is described as an uncrewed transforming intelligent ground excursion robot designed to carry various types of payloads while traveling over treacherous terrain.

The NHS Bozeman team will initially focus on refining the development, testing and deployment of these two UMV models.

“NHS Bozeman is an estimated $20 million investment in Hyundai’s Progress for Humanity vision, redefining transportation with accessible, sustainable and smart mobility solutions. The all-new facility will serve as NHS headquarters and will support prototyping, field testing and application development for UMVs,” the company says in a statement.

Hyundai Elevate
The Hyundai Elevate in drive mode. (Credit: Hyundai’s New Horizon Studio)

New Horizons Studio plans to add more than 50 full-time jobs at the location over the next five years. Many of the positions will be in the research and development space and will target expertise in mechanical hardware, electrical and electronics engineering, and materials and manufacturing.

The estimated 12,000 to 15,000 sq. ft. facility will be part of MSU’s 42-acre Innovation Campus development which is home to many technology and bio-tech businesses. As a part of this group, NHS Bozeman will also have the opportunity to collaborate and work closely with the Montana State University’s (MSU) student population, as well as have access to state-of-the-art research and world class professors.

The Industry Building that will house NHS Bozeman will break ground starting in June 2022, while the first R&D office officially opens in June 2022.

Hyundai Elevate
The Hyundai Elevate Concept in action after an earthquake. (Credit: Hyundai’s New Horizon Studio)

“Montana is quickly becoming a hub for high-tech companies and entrepreneurs with a growing talent pool of skilled labor in the field of engineering, research and natural science,” says Dr. John Suh, head of New Horizons Studio and vice president, Hyundai Motor Group. “Bozeman is a thriving and economic micropolitan city. Nestled near dozens of off-road trails with more than 150 miles of terrain and mountain access for UMV testing – it’s the perfect fit for our new R&D Lab.”

“This is a great day for Montana. We moved quickly to capitalize on Hyundai Motor Group’s interest in our state, make this a reality, and bring more good-paying jobs to Montana. An innovative, global company investing in manufacturing and innovation, Hyundai Motor Group’s decision to bring its new facility to Montana and invest in our state is a testament to our business-friendly environment and Montanans’ strong work ethic,” says Montana Governor Greg Gianforte. “We’re thrilled our close personal relationships, outstanding business climate, talented workforce, and quality of life are attracting international attention. Montana is open for business to the world.”

Hyundai Elevate
The Hyundai Elevate demonstrates its mammalian walking gaits. (Credit: Hyundai’s New Horizon Studio)

South West News Service writer Dean Murray contributed to this report.


  1. I’d rather see walking cars than flying cars. I don’t want to see OR HEAR cars flying over my house or neighborhood, or parks or whatever. They would be noisy and dangerous. Flying cars are a bad idea.

    But, these walking cars are cool. I just wish I lived a life where I needed such a thing – like living out in the woods or something. The problem is that if you don’t use the walking all the time, I have to imagine that you are paying for all the complicated compute power and very strong robot legs which would be very expensive, and I’m betting require and use a lot of power. Not exactly fuel efficient for everyday use.

    It would be cool if they had robot arms to, so they could drive off to the store to puck something big up and put it in the back or hold it on the roof and take it back home.

    I think these would mostly be used for emergency or military use though, but they are cool. I’d like to drive one sometime.

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