We all expect our vehicles to run, but what if they could “walk”? For the first time in history we have ourselves a motorized vehicle that can do just that, in the form of the Elevate, introduced by Hyundai at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week.
A strange and fascinating blend of electric vehicle and robotics, the Elevate UMV (for Ultimate Mobility Vehicle) is the first vehicle to sport wheels AND articulated arms that allow it to “walk”.
And what is the purpose of this creature? To develop a product able to traverse difficult terrain not accessible via traditional vehicles.
“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.”
- John Suh, Hyundai vice president and head of Hyundai CRADLE
The company also postulates that the technology developed for Elevate could allow people with reduced mobility to make use of a vehicle that could come to meet them where they are.
Each leg of the vehicle/robot can move using five different angles, and each wheel harbors its own propulsion system. Movements can be made in every direction, similarly to the way a reptile moves. The legs can climb over a five-foot wall or step over a five-foot obstacle.
Hyundai has not said if it really intends to go ahead and produce the Elevate, but the greater value of the concept lies in the fact that the technology developed for it could well produce offspring. If the possibility exists that it will save lives, there will be people interested in going further with the idea. Think of it as an early glimpse of what emergency vehicles might look like in the future.