Hyundai’s Elevate ‘walking car’ concept has emerged as an automotive highlight of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Described as the first Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV), the design blends technology found in electric cars and robots, allowing it to traverse terrain beyond the limitations of even the most capable off-road vehicle.
The concept is primarily designed to provide efficient, rapid, resilient transportation for disaster assistance, such as search-and-rescue and humanitarian aid missions. Wheels with hub-mounted electric motors are attached to extendable robotic legs, so the vehicle can drive, walk or climb over obstacles.
At CES, engineers have used a working scale model to demonstrate the design in action. A full-size version could climb over obstacles 1.5 meters tall, or stride across a gap 1.5 meters wide. A variety of different bodies can be swapped on and off the modular chassis, depending on need.
“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. Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete,” said John Suh, Vice President and Head of Hyundai CRADLE, the carmaker’s venturing and open innovation business.
“This technology goes well beyond emergency situations. People living with disabilities worldwide that don’t have access to an ADA [wheelchair] 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. The possibilities are limitless.”
Elevate is the result of almost three years’ work in collaboration with industrial design consultancy, Sundberg-Frear, as part of Hyundai’s mission to create new ‘last mile’ mobility technologies and solutions. Elevate’s engineering features include:
- Robotic legs with five degrees of freedom plus in-wheel propulsion
- Ability to walk in mammalian and reptilian style gaits for omnidirectional motion
- Capable of climbing a 1.5-meter vertical wall
- Step over a 1.5-meter gap
- Non-back drivable motors enable the legs to lock in any position
- Modular electric vehicle platform
“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, 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.”
Elevate is a product of Hyundai’s future mobility roadmap, showcased at CES 2019, highlighting the company’s strategy to create freedom in mobility for customers. Hyundai’s vision is based on three key areas: developments in ‘Open Innovation’, the company’s electric vehicle (EV) strategy, and its strategy to gain global leadership in connected mobility.
Under its updated EV strategy, Hyundai will introduce EVs built on a new and dedicated platform named ‘E-GMP. The platform, currently under development, incorporates the world’s first integrated drive axle technology, IDA (Integrated Drive Axle), to provide a quieter and more stable driving experience. “The dedicated electric vehicle models will offer customizable features, allowing drivers to alter the space and configuration of vehicles more efficiently than vehicles that are derived from traditional internal combustion architecture,” said Wonhong Cho, Executive Vice President of Hyundai Motor’s Customer and Marketing Division. “With our state-of-the-art ‘Style Set Free’ design concept, Hyundai Motor tries to provide a whole new experience to consumers with different lifestyles and needs, going beyond just the autonomous driving technology itself.”