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Hyundai’s walking car can take you anywhere

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Hyundai have revealed a concept car that can go where no other can - a robotic car that can “walk” across the rubble and obstacles of disaster areas to help emergency responders get to where they’re most needed.

The Hyundai Elevate concept car can clamber over obstacles in disaster zones to get rescuers where they're most needed
(Image via Hyundai)

The Hyundai Elevate was revealed at CES 2019 after being developed for over three years. The design came from a partnership between Hyundai’s CRADLE disruptive innovations incubator and Sunderg-Ferar - a Detroit based product innovation studio. 

The car features four individually powered wheels mounted on fully articulated legs, each with five degrees of movement. Vertical and horizontal hip joints, a knee joint and ankle joint allow each robotic leg to clamber over any obstacle while keeping the car balanced. A rotational steering joint allows each wheel to spin 360 degrees on a vertical axis.

Five degrees of movement across four fully articulated legs lets the Hyundai Elevate climb over 5ft walls and jump over 5ft gaps
(Image via Hyundai)

This design lets the vehicle climb over walls up to 5ft tall and jump over gaps up to 5ft wide. At full stretch its legs can span a width of 15ft. 

Back on solid ground, the legs curl inwards so the vehicle can be driven like a regular car. In this mode, power to the leg joint actuators is cut to improve range and efficiency on an electric charge. A passive suspension system takes over cushioning.

The Hyundai Elevate's legs can curl inwards, allowing it to be driven like a regular electric car
(Image via Hyundai)

Primarily developed for emergency situations, the car is designed to explore “beyond the range of wheels.”

“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,” said John Suh, Hyundai’s vice-president.

“Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete.”

The Hyundai Elevate can get rescuers and equipment straight to the centre of an emergency, without them having to travel on foot
(Image via Hyundai)

Further suggested uses include exploring new territories and to aid those who require assistance parts of urban environments where normal cars can’t go. 

“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 Hyundai Elevate's unique design may have urban uses as well
(Image via Hyundai)

The vehicle is powered by a 66-kWh battery pack with electric drive motors and actuators. The power needed was determined by running simulations of the 22 mile Rubicon Trail and establishing the onboard battery capacity required to travel along its entirety.

Hyundai claim the vehicles construction is modular, with different body types able to connect to the chassis for different uses. 

The modular design of the Hyundai Elevate means it can be adapted for different uses in different situations

Discussing the Elevate at CES 2019, Prof David Bailey of Aston Business School said: “Often car companies bring out lots of concepts which may or may not make it into production but it’s great to think in new ways about mobility. 

“For most of us, it’s going to be wheels and roads but in extreme situations there may be scope for this sort of thing.”

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Tags: Automotive
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Hyundai’s walking car can take you anywhere - Time to read 3 min
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