New 'walking' Hyundai could save your life
Korean carmaker Hyundai has used this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to show off a vehicle that could prove life-saving for emergency first responders and life-changing for users with additional needs.
Dubbed "Elevate", the concept is designed to transform from a conventional four-wheeled car to a four-legged all-terrain creature that can reach places regular vehicles can't.
Motivated by the troubles encountered by emergency teams in reaching and extracting people injured during a natural disaster, Hyundai gave the Elevate the ability to travel across treacherous terrain – usually managed by tractor, foot or aircraft – without sacrificing its ability to travel at speed once back on level ground.
Hyundai unveiled their new 'Elevate' vehicle that has extending legs to reach difficult locations. (Hyundai)
To achieve this, the Elevate features wheels that can disassemble to form feet, while the conventional suspension system is replaced with folding legs that can extend and imitate the walking gait of mammals or reptiles.
Hyundai says the concept can climb over a wall 1.5 metres tall, or step across a gap 1.5 metres wide, dramatically improving on the capabilities of most ground-based vehicles.
Its design allows for interior access from all four sides of the vehicle, and its method of stepping over obstacles would likely prove less jarring for injured passengers than a conventional tractor crawling across rocky, uneven terrain.
The Elevate features wheels that can disassemble to form feet, reaching places other vehicles can't. (Hyundai)
Hyundai say the new Elevate will be vital in saving lives in emergency situations. (Hyundai)
Because the concept is electric, each wheel features its own independent motor, giving it that freedom to transform without needing a direct mechanical connection to a central motor – as with the axles of a traditional car.
The in-wheel motor design also means the vehicle can combine driving and walking into one process, allowing it to move rapidly across relatively even surfaces without needing to revert back to car mode.
And, thanks to its modular design, the Elevate can be fitted with different body types to suit different needs.
A more urban setting, with more of a focus on commuting rather than emergency service, would see the concept operate instead as an extra-capable taxi.
For now, Hyundai has offered no word on plans to make the concept a production reality, but it describes the Elevate as the future of the first responder industry.
The Hyundai Elevate has an in-wheel motor design so it can combine driving and walking in one process. (Hyundai)