Hyundai unveiled a walking car design – complete with robotic legs – that the company claims is the future of the first responder industry and has “limitless” purposes.
Debuted at the CES Technology Expo in Las Vegas on Monday, “Elevate” is designed for use at natural disaster sites, with users able to drive, walk, or climb over “the most treacherous terrain.” Currently in the early concept stages, there is no official timeline for its commercial roll-out.
Hyundai has been working in partnership with Detroit firm Sundberg-Ferar on the concept for almost three years. Elevate would be the first Ultimate Mobility Vehicle with moveable legs, and the first to combine technology found in both electric cars and robots.
Elevate has four “legs,” each with a series of joints, enabling the vehicle to mimic both mammalian and reptilian walking gaits. Here is how Hyundai describes this truly bizarre feature:
The legs also fold up into a stowed drive-mode, where power to the joints is cut, and the use of an integrated passive suspension system maximizes battery efficiency. This allows Elevate to drive at highway speeds just like any other vehicle. But no other can climb a five foot wall, step over a five foot gap, walk over diverse terrain, and achieve a 15 foot wide track width, all while keeping its body and passengers completely level. Further, the combination of wheeled motion with articulating legs provides a new paradigm of mobility by enabling faster walking speeds, unique dynamic driving postures and torsional control at the end of each leg.
John Suh, vice president and head of Hyundai Cradle, added that current rescue vehicles were only able to deliver first responders to the edge of a debris field, whereas Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete. He further added:
“However this technology goes well beyond emergency situations. People living with disabilities worldwide … 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.”