Hyundai's 'walking car' could be the ambulance of the future

Dwayne Harmon
January 9, 2019

Last week Hyundai released some teaser material of its walking Elevate concept, created to negotiate "treacherous" areas a conventional wheeled vehicle would struggle to get ahead.

And the technology goes beyond emergency situations.

Built on a modular vehicle chassis, Elevate vehicles can swap out robotic attachments for different situations, like a auto stuck in a snow ditch climbing its way back up to the road. The "Elevate" (so-called for reasons that ought to be obvious, if you've already scrolled through the pics) is what Hyundai calls a "Ultimate Mobility Vehicle", or UMV.

The Elevate makes use of four moveable legs to "traverse terrain beyond the limitations of even the most capable off-road vehicle", according to the Korean manufacturer.

Legs can also be folded away, allowing the vehicle to drive like any other auto on the road.

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John Suh, vice president and head of Hyundai CRADLE, which developed the concept, said: "When a tsunami or natural disaster 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", said Hyundai vice-president John Suh.

However, Hyundai's Elevate, which can also drive itself, is a much more radical design.

This design, says Hyundai, is "uniquely capable of both mammalian and reptilian walking gaits", essentially allowing it to move in any direction. This allows the Elevate to drive at highway speeds just like any other vehicle. Walking on its legs the Elevate can step over a five-foot wall and cross a five-foot gap. We are talking about the Hyundai Elevate concept showcased at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show 2019. Cradle Hyundai Motor's corporate venturing and open innovation business, which partners and invests extensively in prominent global startups to accelerate the development of advanced future automotive technologies. Hyundai also said in the release that this concept might be used included being able to carefully extract injured people from disaster zones or rugged terrain.

"By combining the power of robotics with Hyundai's latest EV technology, Elevate has the ability to take people where no vehicle has been before, and redefine our perception of vehicular freedom", said David Byron, design manager, Sundberg-Ferar.

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