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Kia and HMG Announce New Joint Venture for Lunar Exploration

For the past few years, the Hyundai Motor Group (HMG, parent group of Kia Corp) has been working on new forms of mobility and robotics. The most recent advancement is the eVOTL Aircraft, a personal aircraft designed to shuttle passengers between their origin point and their destination via flight. Designed between HMG and Uber, this concept was first unveiled to us during the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and was finally introduced to us during the Farnborough International Airshow. Just the beginning of a futuristic outlook, just this year, during the 2022 CES, HMG and Kia shared concepts for an ecosystem of mobility with personal mobile pods, purpose-built vehicles (PBVs), and of course this aircraft. Alongside these promises were steps forward into robotics for personal companionship, performing work functions without the need of human workers on-site (say, working with high-voltage machinery), and even making use of the budding Metaverse. With that in mind, HMG and Kia are taking one metaverse concept and turning it into a reality – Lunar Surface Exploration.

“We have taken the first step towards transforming our vision for robotics and the concept of Metamobility into reality…We will expand the scope of human movement experience beyond traditional means of transport and beyond the bounds of Earth to further contribute to the progress of humankind and help create a better future.” – Yong Wha Kim, Executive Vice President, and Head of R&D Planning & Coordination Center of Hyundai Motor and Kia

The automotive group isn’t doing this alone, of course. Even with the successful technologies developed by Hyundai and Kia in recent years, their focus right now is on electric vehicle production (EV) and PBVs. With new business plans for 2030, Kia already has plenty of work to do, as does the HMG. To lighten the load and bring more manpower into this new endeavor, the two automakers signed joint research agreements with six Korean research institutes to work together and develop mobility solutions to explore the surface of the moon. We saw an example of this during the 2022 CES with mobile entertainment rooms where users could enter a virtual reality world and experience the surface of the moon with visual, audio, and even tactile sensory functions – kind of like the Regal 4DX movie experience.

This announcement is made even greater following the successful launch of a domestically produced rocket by Korea in June. Afterall, to get people exploring the moon, we first need something there to transmit all of this information. The six institutes in play are the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI); Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI); Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI); Korea Automotive Technology Institute (KATECH); Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT); and Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI). Together, these institutes, Kia, and HMG are able to form a consultative body that will not only define the concept of lunar exploration mobility but develop the major core technologies that can make lunar exploration from home possible.

After all, although it may look pretty, the moon’s surface is full of countless craters and coatings of lunar dust composed of sharp and abrasive particles, has extreme temperature changes from exposure to the sun and no atmosphere to protect us from the deadly heat – or the intense cold from the dark side of the moon. There’s also no oxygen. To make “Metamobility” and exploration possible, this new joint venture will be working on the development of exploration equipment, software for mobility operation, and remote communication functionality to control the devices that will be used to conduct lunar exploration missions. We saw a small preview of what this could look like with consumers at home exploring the moon through Boston Dynamics’ robot, named ‘SPOT’, exploring outer space. Interested to learn more about what Kia and HMG will be working on next? Stay informed when you follow us on Miami Lakes Kia social media.

Photo Source/Copyright: Kia Media