Innovation and CES used to go hand in hand, but in recent years, most of the tech on display is evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. Kudos to Hyundai and its CRADLE division for showing up at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show with a truly innovative and unusual concept that’s well outside of the boundaries of conventional thinking. Sure, the Elevate appears only in renderings at this point, but the IDEA of a vehicle that can walk is truly off the beaten path.
So why would you want a car that could walk? Well if you’re in the business of rescuing people in rugged terrain, or in the rubble of a collapsed structure, even the most rugged of Jeeps can have problems negotiating extremely jagged and uneven surfaces. In the case of Hyundai’s concept vehicle, its legs allow it to maneuver over just about any surface you can throw at it.
At the end of each of its legs is a wheel, so it’s able to use its variable height legs to position itself and then the wheels to propel it in any direction. The video clip below offers a brief glimpse at how the mechanism would work:
In addition to dealing with rugged off-road terrain, Hyundai showed off an urban scenario for the Elevate as well – using its height-adjustable legs to pick up and deliver people at the top of a staircase – which could improve mobility and access to locations without ramps for people with disabilities.
Technically, the Elevate is designed to run on a purely-electric drivetrain, and its legs are able to not only extend in height, but in width – up to a whopping 15-foot track width. This can improve vehicle stability, and gives it the potential to just ride over a tall obstacle under the center of the vehicle.
While Hyundai isn’t planning on producing the Elevate at this point, I’m hopeful that some of its concepts do find their way into search and rescue vehicles in the not-too-distant future.