The Hyundai Elevate – World’s First Walking Car

A glimpse into the future of disaster response.

You probably won’t remember this, but in the old days people walked. See those appendages below the waist? The ones with shoes attached, I mean. Well, as it turns out they didn’t evolve to press pedals. People balanced over them and used them to get around. That was before the advent of wheels; indeed, we get from A to B much faster, but at what cost?! Honestly, you don’t need to worry about that because Hyundai is here to restore us to our former glory. Introducing… the Hyundai Elevate!

It’s a quadrupedal concept motor with wheels mounted on robotic legs, allowing it to both drive AND walk. It was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas and was presented as a glimpse into the future of disaster response. It can traverse extremely rugged terrain, climb a five-foot wall and step across a five-foot gap, keeping it’s body level all the while.

“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, Head of Hyundai’s CRADLE robotics research division. “Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete.”

Each robotic leg boasts five degrees of freedom and utilizes state-of-the-art electric actuator technology. If you watch the video below you’ll see exactly what they’re capable of. The Elevate can switch between ‘mammalian’, ‘reptilian’ and ‘omnidirectional’ walking modes and a couple of interesting drive modes, too. And just like we saw with Rinspeed’s ‘Snap’ concept, the Elevate is based on a modular EV platform, which means its body can be switched out for another, opening up a world of potential uses for this vehicle.

According to Suh, “[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.”


Image Credit: Hyundai

Image Credit: Hyundai

Image Credit: Hyundai

Marc Ward