We’ve been intrigued by Hyundai’s “walking car” concept ever since the automaker teased it last week.
Now that the wraps are off at the CES in Las Vegas, we have to say we’re even more fascinated. Described as an Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV), the Hyundai Elevate concept is a rescue vehicle ready for any disaster that might hit the planet.
It features wheels with robotic legs that allow users to drive, walk or even climb “over the most treacherous terrain”, according to the company. It’s designed to reach areas affected by a natural disaster immediately after it has struck in order to save as many lives as possible.
Designed to reach areas hit by natural disasters immediately
The first 72 hours following a natural disaster are the most critical, and the Elevate’s versatility makes it able to reach areas affected by forest fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, or floods right away and get immediate help to those in need. The Elevate is the first-ever vehicle with moveable legs, blending technology found in electric cars and robots. As a result, it can reach terrain that even the most capable off-road vehicles can’t.
“When a tsunami or earthquake hits, current rescue vehicles can only deliver first responders to the edge of the debris field. They have to go the rest of the way by foot. Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete,” explains John Suh, Hyundai vice president and head of Hyundai Cradle.
Elevate can climb a five-foot (1.52-meter) wall, step over a five-foot gap, walk over diverse terrain, and achieve a 15-foot (4.57-m) wide track width. Remarkably, it can do all that while keeping its body and passengers completely level.
It can imitate both mammalian and reptilian walking gaits
Obviously, there are other missions beyond emergency situations that the Elevate can perform. “People living with disabilities worldwide that don’t have access to an ADA ramp could hail an autonomous Hyundai Elevate that could walk up to their front door, level itself, and allow their wheelchair to roll right in – the possibilities are limitless,” Suh added.
The concept uses a modular EV platform that can fit different bodies for specific situations. The robotic leg architecture features wheel hub propulsion motors, electric actuator technology, and five degrees of freedom. As a result, the vehicle is capable of both mammalian and reptilian walking gaits, allowing it to move in any direction and deal with any terrain.
The legs can also fold up into a stowed drive-mode, where power to the joints is cut, and an integrated passive suspension system maximizes battery efficiency. When in drive mode, the Elevate can reach highway speeds just like any other vehicle.