Hyundai’s ‘walking car’ concept highlight of CES 2019
January 14 2019 10:30 PM
The Hyundai CRADLE Elevate.
The Hyundai CRADLE Elevate.

Hyundai’s Elevate ‘walking car’ concept emerged as an automotive highlight of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held recently in Las Vegas, US.

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, according to a press statement issued in Doha by Skyline Automotive, a Jaidah Group company and official distribution partner of Hyundai Motor Company.

At CES, engineers have used a working scale model to demonstrate the design in action. A full-size version could climb over obstacles 1.5m tall, or stride across a gap 1.5m 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, the ability to walk in mammalian and reptilian style gaits for omnidirectional motion, the capability to climb a 1.5m vertical wall, step over a 1.5m gap, non-back drivable motors enable the legs to lock in any position and a 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 10ft 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.

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