The metaverse still seems abstract to you, and you consider it a gadget? Hyundai might change your mind with Metamobility.
Boston Dynamics has fascinated us for years with its creations, all more impressive than the others. So there was something to be puzzled about when the lab was bought out for Hyundai for a billion dollars. Until then, its objectives were still relatively unclear; but the car manufacturer has just clarified its intentions at the cES 2022: it has just presented Metamobility, his vision of a world where robots could make the link between the physical worlds and the virtual spaces of the metaverse.
They could serve as a “digital double” in the real world; they would thus allow us to see, hear, and even interact with an environment located thousands of kilometers away. “By connecting the robots to the metaverse, we will be able to move freely between the real world and virtual reality. To go further in immersion, we will offer a “proxy” experience where robots will be an extension of our own physical senses, allowing us to reinvent and enrich our daily life”, Explains Chang Song, President of the Hyundai Group.
A really interesting concept, and which strongly resembles a first “real” concrete and successful project within the framework of the Metaverse. In essence, a robot could serve as an intermediary which a human could slip into as he donned a costume, but thousands of miles away. He could then use it to interact with the real world from your current location. Enough to go to an exhibition with a friend in Tokyo, play a game of chess in a New York park, then attend a concert in London in the same day and without leaving home.
Hyundai has also chosen to illustrate this concept in the most extreme of environments: space. In a presentation clip, several humans are seen exploring Mars; they are accompanied by a Spot robot physically present on site.
The robot could then use a whole armada of sensors to record local conditions as precisely as possible. It will then be possible to restore them with a maximum of fidelity at the level of the user. The development of new haptic and sensory feedback technologies for example will allow you to physically feel the wind of a sandstorm, or the temperature of a particular surface from your sofa.
A very abstract presentation, but which illustrates well the interest of this concept beyond the social sphere and entertainment. Once sufficiently advanced, this technology could allow us to revolutionize the way we operate in hazardous environments.
It does start with space. Sending humans to the surface of another planet is a colossal engineering challenge that takes years of preparation. With such technology, it would be enough to ship a dozen proxies to the Red Planet, and voila; the astronauts in flesh and blood would then have an extension of themselves directly on site, in the form of a robotic clone accessible 24 hours a day. This would also allow them to evolve there in complete safety without having to manage all the constraints of the sidereal vacuum.
And it’s not just in these alien environments that it could come in handy. This could change the lives of some highly exposed professionals, for example in risky positions in industry. It could also revolutionize the exploration of hostile environments like Chernobyl. We can also imagine using it in disaster areas; perfect for relief operations after an earthquake or tsunami, for example.
Obviously, we are still extremely far from having the necessary technology to achieve this in the near future. But there is something to be impressed with with Hyundai’s approach. Because this philosophy seems technically feasible. It also seems perfectly suited to the concept of the metaverse, which seems set to democratize. Will this vision eventually materialize? And if so, when? These questions still remain unanswered, but one thing is certain: we will follow the Metamobility project with a special attention over the coming years.