Hyundai Created a Concept Car That Walks

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Resembling some sort of creepy animal (a mechanical cow, perhaps?), the Hyundai Elevate is a concept that can actually walk.

Yes, walk, as in using legs to provide forward locomotion. Unveiled as it were at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is taking place in Las Vegas right now, this design study is the South Korean automaker’s idea of what a future disaster-relief vehicle could be. They’re calling it a UMV, that is, an ultimate mobility vehicle. Perhaps their engineers have been watching a little too much Return of the Jedi.

Combining technology found in today’s cars, robots and off-road vehicles, it can allegedly tackle the roughest and toughest terrain Mother Nature has created. Given the Elevate’s ability drive along like a normal car AND crawl over obstacles, it could be the perfect vehicle for performing search-and-rescue missions after a natural disaster strikes.

Born of Hyundai CRADLE, the automaker’s innovation-focused division, this futuristic design study could also be used to help individuals with disabilities more easily get around. It can elevate itself over stairs or other obstacles, allowing, for instance, a wheelchair to more easily rolled inside.

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As you’d expect, the Elevate is all electric, with in-hub motors providing propulsion at each of its four wheels. But real the magic is in its legs. When tucked into the bodywork, they enable this vehicle to cruise along efficiently at even highway speeds, but when needed they have five degrees of movement, which allows the Elevate to imitate both mammalian and reptilian gaits for maximum freedom.

When the going get tough, really tough, this Hyundai can climb like an orangutan, clambering over obstacles up to five feet high. For extra stability, those legs can also splay outward, providing a 15-foot-wide track for unparalleled stability.

This concept looks completely ridiculous, like something that will never ever make it to market, though its alleged capability is thought-provoking. Imagine how useful something like this would be for fire departments or the Red Cross. Is the Hyundai Elevate mere vaporware? Maybe, but it’s a groundbreaking idea and that’s why it’s a perfect fit at CES.

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Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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