South Korea’s Hyundai Motor has pushed the boundaries of this definition with its “walking car” concept Elevate, which was unveiled on the sidelines of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday.
Elevate is Hyundai’s first-ever vehicle with four moveable legs that give the car an insect-like look. It combines the technology found in electric cars and robots, allowing it to travel across difficult terrain, debris, stairs and places typical off-road vehicles can’t reach.
Dubbed by Hyundai as the “Ultimate Mobility Vehicle,” Elevate runs on a modular electric vehicle platform and has the capability to switch out different bodies for specific situations.
The vehicle’s four robotic legs each have five “joints” allowing for a different mode of movement, and have wheel hub propulsion motors that enable the vehicle to walk either with the feet in line with the body, or wider, similar to the way a reptile walks. It also means the vehicle can move in any direction, providing wider mobility, according to Hyundai.
Elevate can climb a 1.5-meter wall, step over a 1.5-meter gap, walk over diverse terrain and achieve a 4.5-meter wide track width, while keeping its body and passengers fully level.
Rescue operations at disaster sites, and increasing mobility for disabled citizens are some of the potential real-life applications, according to John Suh, vice president and head of Hyundai’s Center for Robot-Augmented Design in Living Experiences.
Hyundai built Elevate in partnership with Sundberg-Ferar, a Detroit-based design studio.