Hyundai is hoping to save lives during natural disasters by designing a walking car that could help climb over tricky terrain to reach those in need.
The South Korean automotive giant is calling its Elevate concept the first Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV), featuring four extendable legs each with wheels, giving it the ability to change the way it moves depending on the situation, offering both mammal and reptile-like walking gaits.
Hyundai, who has been working on the idea with industrial design consultancy firm Sundberg-Ferar for almost three years, says that the electric concept would be able to climb a five foot vertical wall and step over five foot gaps.
“When a tsunami or earthquake 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,” explained John Suh, Hyundai’s vice president and head of its Cradle division.
“Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete.”
The company believes that the technology could be used in non-emergency situations as well, particularly helping those with disabilities.
“People living with disabilities worldwide that don’t have access to an ADA ramp could hail an autonomous Hyundai Elevate that could walk up to their front door, level itself, and allow their wheelchair to roll right in,” he continued. “The possibilities are limitless.”
Legs can also be folded away, allowing the vehicle to drive like any other car on the road.
“By combining the power of robotics with Hyundai’s latest EV technology, Elevate has the ability to take people where no car has been before, and redefine our perception of vehicular freedom,” said David Byron, design manager at Sundberg-Ferar.
“Imagine a car stranded in a snow ditch just 10 feet off the highway being able to walk or climb over the treacherous terrain, back to the road potentially saving its injured passengers – this is the future of vehicular mobility.”
Hyundai has been showcasing the concept at CES, the world’s main tech conference which takes place every year in Las Vegas. As with any concept, it is not clear whether Hyundai intends to make the car a reality anytime soon.