The need for efficient, rapid, resilient transportation for disaster assistance has led Hyundai to develop a vehicle concept with moveable legs. Known as ‘Elevate’, it is, says Hyundai, the first Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV), blending technology found in electric cars and robots, which allows it to traverse terrain beyond the limitations of even the most capable off-road vehicle.
“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 company’s venture capital and innovation arm.
“This technology goes well beyond emergency situations. People living with disabilities worldwide that don’t have access to an ADA 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.”
The Elevate concept, developed in conjunction with industrial design consultancy Sundberg-Ferar, is based on a modular EV platform with the capability to switch out different bodies for specific situations. The robotic leg architecture has five degrees of freedom plus wheel hub propulsion motors and is enabled by electric actuator technology. This design allows for both mammalian and reptilian walking gaits, allowing it to move in any direction.
The legs also fold up into a stowed drive-mode, where power to the joints is cut, and the use of an integrated passive suspension system maximises battery efficiency. This, says Hyundai, will allow Elevate to drive at highway speeds.
Elevate can can climb a five-foot wall, step over a five-foot gap, walk over diverse terrain, and achieve a 15-foot wide track width, all while keeping its body and passengers completely level.
“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 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.”