Hyundai's walking vehicle could save lives and even go to Mars

Irving Hamilton
January 8, 2019

However, 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.

Earlier this week, Hyundai had released a teaser image of the Elevate electric rescue vehicle concept or in Hyundai speak, the Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV).

What's more, the concept, which was developed in conjunction with Sundberg-Ferar, is based around a modular EV platform that allows different bodies to be switched and swopped when needed. Dubbed the Hyundai Elevate, the Korean firm says the concept can traverse terrain "beyond the limitations of even the most capable off-road vehicle". The robotic leg architecture features five degrees of freedom plus wheel hub propulsion motors and is enabled by the "latest in electric actuator technology".

The company believes that the technology could be used in non-emergency situations as well, particularly helping those with disabilities. A scale model robot showed the vehicle's two walking gaits - mammalian and reptilian - which would allow it to move in any direction.

Of course, the legs can also be retracted in what Hyundai calls a "stowed-drive" mode, and it will take to the highway like any other wheeled vehicle.

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However, what makes the Elevate literally stand out is the ability to scale 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. "Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete", said John Suh, Hyundai vice president and head of Hyundai CRADLE.

If someone could not access a building without a ramp, for example, the Elevate could walk across, level itself and allow the wheelchair to enter before moving it into the entrance.

The Hyundai Elevate has been designed with Sundberg-Ferar, located in Metro Detroit, a product innovation studio specializing in innovation strategy, design research, industrial design, user interface, engineering and prototyping. "The possibilities are limitless".

Prof David Bailey, from Aston Business School, said: "Often vehicle companies bring out lots of concepts which may or may not make it into production but it's great to think in new ways about mobility".

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