Automotive

Hyundai gets serious about unstoppable, four-legged 4x4 robo-cars

Hyundai gets serious about uns...
Multi-point articulating legs allow the Hyundai Elevate concept to walk over rubble, large rocks, collapsed highway gaps and more
Multi-point articulating legs allow the Hyundai Elevate concept to walk over rubble, large rocks, collapsed highway gaps and more
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With the legs retracted, the Hyundai Elevate looks like any other pod-car concept
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With the legs retracted, the Hyundai Elevate looks like any other pod-car concept
Multi-point articulating legs allow the Hyundai Elevate concept to walk over rubble, large rocks, collapsed highway gaps and more
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Multi-point articulating legs allow the Hyundai Elevate concept to walk over rubble, large rocks, collapsed highway gaps and more
The Hyundai Elevate will be Job #1 for New Horizons Studio
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The Hyundai Elevate will be Job #1 for New Horizons Studio
Different passenger/utility pods could mate to the Elevate chassis for versatility
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Different passenger/utility pods could mate to the Elevate chassis for versatility
The original Elevate concept legs offered five degrees of jointed movement
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The original Elevate concept legs offered five degrees of jointed movement
When retracted, the legs work with frame-integrated suspension to absorb shock
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When retracted, the legs work with frame-integrated suspension to absorb shock
The Elevate could walk right up to your front door for pickup ... though it'll probably have trouble with multi-story apartment buildings
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The Elevate could walk right up to your front door for pickup ... though it'll probably have trouble with multi-story apartment buildings
Where the four-wheel drive stops, the four-leg drive starts
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Where the four-wheel drive stops, the four-leg drive starts
New Horizons will pick up work on the Elevate and other ultimate mobility vehicles
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New Horizons will pick up work on the Elevate and other ultimate mobility vehicles
View gallery - 9 images

When Hyundai debuted (rendered, really) its sci-fi-grade Elevate walking all-terrain vehicle concept at CES 2019, we assumed its design team just threw an all-time-great New Year's Eve bash and let the party favors do the designing. Okay, maybe it was a holiday party. Turns out, Hyundai was actually pretty serious. This week, it announced that it has formed a new studio to work on "ultimate mobility vehicles" (UMVs), including the Elevate. Soon, all-terrain vehicle could have a broader meaning, encompassing hole hops, wall climbs and boulder scrambles.

New Horizons Studio will bring together Hyundai's expertise in vehicles, robotics and intelligent mobility in order to push the boundaries of vehicular engineering to "reimagine how vehicles might traverse the world." And that world definitely isn't limited to mere road, track and level trail, but also applies to "unconventional and off-road terrain, including places where vehicles have never roamed before."

New Horizons will pick up work on the Elevate and other ultimate mobility vehicles
New Horizons will pick up work on the Elevate and other ultimate mobility vehicles

Sounds intriguing, doesn't it?

Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Hyundai calls the Elevate concept the first UMV on which New Horizons will work. As imagined during initial concept phase, the Elevate has four electric-driven wheels attached to robotic legs. It can travel as a pod-like electric car, but its real magic happens when terrain becomes impassable ... or so it seems. The Elevate extends its legs to walk, climb and stretch over obstacles. The legs have five degrees of motion, including wheels that rotate 360 degrees in relation to the "ankle" for precise micro-movement. Hyundai said the Elevate could climb up to 5 feet (1.5 m) of vertical wall and step over 5-foot gaps.

With the legs retracted, the Hyundai Elevate looks like any other pod-car concept
With the legs retracted, the Hyundai Elevate looks like any other pod-car concept

As much as we can imagine armored versions of these things fighting it out on future battlefields, the use case Hyundai most likes to talk about is emergency rescue and disaster relief. When forces beyond anyone's control render an urban or natural zone an impassable pile of concrete rubble or fallen trees, the Elevate would be able to leave traditional vehicles behind and climb over debris, carrying out critical, response-time-slashing operations.

Hyundai also envisions the Elevate as a literal door-to-door transporter for sick or disabled individuals lacking a wheelchair ramp. And with modular bodies, a single robotic chassis could serve many different functions.

The Elevate could walk right up to your front door for pickup ... though it'll probably have trouble with multi-story apartment buildings
The Elevate could walk right up to your front door for pickup ... though it'll probably have trouble with multi-story apartment buildings

The Silicon-Valley-heavy New Horizons Studio team will be headed by Dr. John Suh, who previously served as founding director of Hyundai Ventures and Hyundai CRADLE (Center for Robotic-Augmented Design in Living Experiences). The latter developed the Elevate concept in partnership with design and innovation firm Sundberg-Ferar.

“We aim to create the world’s first transformer-class vehicle, also known as the Ultimate Mobility Vehicle," says Dr. Suh.

So yeah, Hyundai is working on actual transformers now. And all early indications suggest they will, in fact, be more than meets the eye. Get a taste in the 2019 Elevate video below.

Project Elevate | Hyundai

Source: Hyundai

View gallery - 9 images
8 comments
vince
Too high center of gravity. A big gust of wind will come up and knock it over and like a turtle it's dead in the water. Winds are over 70 mph as proved by data from the Viking Landers.
David
Almost a Joe 90 car. 😉
Tommo
Interesting concept, that video was superb.!
David V
Star Wars has arrived. Want one ! Could be fun in traffic jams...
Nelson Hyde Chick
The taxi one was the most ridiculous because with the technology of the taxi could be used to make those in wheelchairs not need wheelchairs.
toni24
Just what we need in the winter at our off grid home
ljaques
Outstanding. Can't wait to see them. I fear that the legs will be the weak point and that steering motors and/or joints will be a frequent service problem. So just Build 'Em, Hyundai! That's a fun car/truck. I like the sleek car format, too. @DavidV, yeah, besides us, ambulance drivers could really use those in heavy traffic areas to get to patients.
Ralf Biernacki
70 mph, but air there is so thin you'd barely feel it. And for an actively balancing legged vehicle, the high center of gravity can be leveraged to provide *better* stability---a goat climbs better than a crocodile. But I do think the 5 degrees of freedom is excessive---two or three would do just as well.