[THE INVESTOR] LAS VEGAS -- When we think of a car, the obvious image has always been one with four wheels attached to the vehicle’s body.
However, Korea’s Hyundai Motor has pushed the boundaries of this definition with its “walking car” concept Elevate, which was unveiled on the sidelines of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 7.
Elevate is Hyundai’s first-ever vehicle with four moveable legs that give the car an insect-like look. It combines the technology found in electric cars and robots, allowing it to travel across difficult terrain, debris, stairs and places typical off-road vehicles can’t reach.
Dubbed by Hyundai as the “Ultimate Mobility Vehicle,” Elevate runs on a modular electric vehicle platform and has the capability to switch out different bodies for specific situations.
The vehicle’s four robotic legs each have five “joints” allowing for a different mode of movement, and have wheel hub propulsion motors that enable it to walk either with the feet in line with the body, or wider, similar to the way reptiles walk. It also means the vehicle can move in any direction, providing wider mobility, according to Hyundai.
Due to its unique mechanism, Elevate can climb a 1.5-meter wall, step over a 1.5-meter gap, walk over diverse terrain and achieve a 4.5-meter wide track width, while keeping its body and passengers fully level.
Where could this sort of technology be useful?
Rescue operations at disaster sites, and increasing mobility for disabled citizens are some of the potential real-life applications, according to John Suh, vice president and head of Hyundai’s Center for Robot-Augmented Design in Living Experiences.
“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,” Suh said.
“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.”
Hyundai built Elevate in partnership with Sundberg-Ferar, a Detroit-based design studio.
In addition to unveiling its latest concept car, Hyundai also presented its future mobility road map at CES 2019. The automaker’s vision revolves around three areas: open innovation, personalized electric vehicles and global leadership in connected cars.
In terms of global targets, Hyundai’s goal is to have 10 million active connectivity users globally and to apply connected car technologies to all of its vehicle segments in the global market by early 2022.
“Hyundai not only strives to become the No. 1 provider of connected cars globally, but to also provide connected car services that surpass the current range of services through an open platform, paving the way to embody our concept of ‘transcend connectivity,’” said Suh Jung-sik, senior vice president of Hyundai’s ICT division.
By Sohn Ji-young/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)