IT’S best known for its affordable motors, but Hyundai is branching out into the world of SPACE robots.
The South Korean car giant announced Wednesday that it is developing a machine that can traverse the surface of the Moon.
It’s unclear exactly what kind of robot the team is making, but the focus will be on braving the Moon’s harsh conditions.
It could form part of South Korea’s ambitious space programme, which is targeting a robotic landing on the moon by 2030.
Hyundai’s project is in partnership with sister car-maker Kia and six Korean research institutes.
“Hyundai and Kia … are expanding their vision beyond the bounds of Earth and into space,” Hyundai said in a statement.
The company, which is worth $300billion, added that the project will focus on “mobility solutions” to explore the Moon’s surface.
That could take the form of a bipedal robot that walks like a human, a four-legged, dog-like machine, or a more traditional rover.
It’s unclear precisely what lunar mission the companies are eyeing as a potential beneficiary of the technology.
In a press release, Hyundai referenced Korea’s first successful launch of a domestically produced rocket in June.
A latecomer to the aerospace industry, the country has outlined an ambitious programme to catch up with the likes of Russia and China.
It will launch its first Moon mission on August 2.
The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter will circle Earth’s natural satellite for at least a year, measuring the magnetic force above its surface and scanning for resources such as water ice and uranium.
The mission is viewed as the first step in South Korea’s deep-space agenda, which includes a robotic landing onto the moon by 2030.
An asteroid sample-return mission is also in the works.
What part – if any – Hyundai plays in those expeditions is yet to be seen, but it’s likely the country’s biggest manufacturers will be involved as contractors.
Yong Wha Kim, Executive Vice President of Hyundai, said that the goal was to help humankind progress and to “create a better future.”
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