Hyundai reveals walking car concept

The highlight of Hyundai’s press conference was the announcement of its Elevate Ultra Mobility Vehicle concept. Coining the new UMV moniker, Hyundai claims to be developing the first vehicle that can traverse pretty much any environment.

Hyundai reveals walking car concept

Hyundai sees the Elevate as the ideal search and rescue vehicle for first responders, enabling them to search for and reach survivors of disasters. While there is no shortage of rugged off-road vehicles already being used by search and rescue teams around the world, these vehicles can only take first responders so far when the terrain becomes too much for any kind of traditional transport.

If there’s an air crash on a mountain side, rescue teams can only drive so far before they have to get out and hike. Or in the event of an earthquake, previously accessible areas will become unreachable in any type of wheel driven vehicle.

But the Elevate is different, yes it has four wheels and can be driven like any other car or truck, but those wheels are mounted to extendable legs, with an incredibly flexible field of movement. This allows the Elevate to, well, elevate and walk across terrain that wouldn’t be drivable. The wheels can be locked and rotated 90 degrees for enhanced sure footedness, and the gait of movement can also be altered to suit the terrain.

Otherwise uncrossable gaps can be walked over in the Elevate, and it can negotiate elevations and descents confidently. In essence, the Elevate is designed to allow rescue workers to travel directly to the scene of an emergency without having to exit the vehicle, which would also make evacuation of victims both easier and faster.

Hyundai had a scale model of the Elevate on stage, highlighting that the cabin of the vehicle is interchangeable, ensuring that the Elevate is always the right tool for the job. Anyone who’s old enough to remember Thunderbirds will probably agree that the Elevate looks like exactly the type of vehicle that International Rescue would use – if Jeff Tracey were at CES, he’d probably be working up a Thunderbird 2 container for an Elevate right now!

Of course the Elevate is just a concept model right now, but Hyundai also showed off a working prototype robot of the leg and wheel assembly, highlighting the different movement modes that it can employ. This will form the basis of a complete, working model vehicle, that will hopefully evolve into a full size prototype.

It’s impossible to say whether a production vehicle based on the Elevate concept will ever appear, but we certainly hope it does. If CES is all about innovation, Hyundai has delivered a vision of something truly innovative, that could also save a lot of lives.

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