Elevate is the first Ultimate Mobility Vehicle, which Hyundai blended robots and electric cars, allowing it to cross the world’s most challenging terrain.
The concept has been in development for several years and was first unveiled to the public Tuesday. Hyundai expects the vehicle will be used one day to save lives in response to natural disasters.
“What if a car designed with robotics could save lives in disasters,” said Hyundai executive John Suh, who heads a research arm off the company devoted to innovation.
Elevate is designed with four mechanical legs that can act like feet. It can roll along on extended legs or retract them to be driven like a car.
“Extended legs could also be used to climb or crawl while keeping the passenger compartment level,” according to David Byron of Sundberg-Ferar, an industrial design consultancy, which is working with Hyundai on the project.
“This design is uniquely capable of both mammalian and reptilian walking gaits, allowing it to move in any direction,” Hyundai said in a statement.
This vehicle can travel at high speeds. The propulsion comes from four electric motors mounted inside each wheel hub.
A scale-down model of Elevate, along with a promotional video of how it could perform was displayed at the CES event.
“This technology goes well beyond emergency situations – people living with disabilities could hail an autonomous Hyundai Elevate that could walk up to their front door, level itself, and allow their wheelchair to roll right in,” Suh said.
For Hyundai, the “walking car” seems to be a chance to demonstrate that, like many automakers today, the company is pursuing innovation.