Innovation in the automaking space is littered with unfeasible pipedreams, abandoned concepts, and sometimes just shit that’s too expensive to work on a commercial scale. As for Hyundai, the South Korean company is looking us dead in the eyes to announce the development of the Hyundai Elevate with a straight face. That’s a car which – get this – will actually walk.
Has science gone too far? Often times, I argue science hasn’t gone far enough. Other times, I remember we had hubris to concoct an ungodly Heinz purple ketchup back in 2001. Not that I’m saying the Hyundai’s walking car is by any means the motoring equivalent. But if you really break down the philosophical implications of a walking car – a sick cosmic joke if I’ve ever heard one – you’d come to agree… it ain’t exactly far off.
The Hyundai Elevate concept was first introduced at CES 2019 and is admittedly nowhere near as dumb as I’m making it out to be. With emergency situations in mind, the entire project is now being undertaken by Hyundai-owned company, New Horizon Studio. Scenarios where the Elevate, or any walking car for that matter, could conceivably show practical use include natural disaster rescue, traversing terrains otherwise inaccessible by conventional vehicles, your more intense off-roading – all while still being capable of cruising highways like a regular whip.
Notable engineered features include:
- Robotic legs with 5 degrees of freedom & in-wheel propulsion
- Ability to walk in mammalian & reptilian style gaits for omnidirectional motion
- Capable of climbing vertical walls (1.5 metres)
- Capable of stepping over gaps (1.5 metres)
- Non-back drivable motors which enable legs to lock in any position
- Modular electric vehicle platform
“Elevate has the ability to take people where no car has been before, and redefine our perception of vehicular freedom,” says design manager David Byron.
“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.”
“We aim to create the world’s first transformer-class vehicle, also known as the Ultimate Mobility Vehicle,” says Vice President of New Horizon Studios, Dr. John Suh.
The Hyundai Elevate is being tinkered with for material birth at New Horizon Studio’s labs over in the cradle of innovation that is Silicon Valley. There’s no guarantee that anything will actually become of it, but the prospect of capable minds dedicating time to it alone is pretty exciting stuff.