Hyundai’s ‘CRADLE’ division for technological research has unveiled an Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV) which can either drive like a car or walk like a quadruped. Yes, really. The ‘Elevate’ Walking Car Concept, created in partnership with Sundberg-Ferar of Michigan, features two-piece folding ‘legs’ which can unfold to raise – sorry, elevate – the vehicle to almost twice its original height.
When the body is raised, the wheels lock and act only as ‘feet’ while the car walks in a manner akin to those terrifying Boston Dynamics dog robots. With “five degrees of freedom” it can walk both like a mammal and a reptile, apparently, which means it can travel in any direction.
Once it’s back on level ground, the legs fold back up and deactivate, allowing conventional passive suspension to take over as it reverts to being a car. It can also drive at half mast, as it were, for serious off-roading.
The point of this three-year research project is to create a vehicle that can go anywhere at all (on land) for the purpose of helping people – whether it’s as a Paramedic vehicle in the countryside, a traffic accident response vehicle to reach and retrieve people from a roadside crash, or a means of collecting and transporting disabled people more effectively (the image above shows a taxi version climbing up some stairs to reach someone). The Elevate can scale a five-foot vertical wall, and step over a five-foot gap.
The concept is based around an electric skateboard platform, which is both very on-trend and very versatile. It allows different body shapes to be fitted for different ranges of use. Aesthetically, the lack of input from Hyundai’s automotive design team means it hasn’t had any road car brand identity uncomfortably shoehorned onto its function-first exterior. The interior is, naturally, very configurable.
“We have been working with Sundberg-Ferar on the Elevate Concept for almost three years now,” comments CRADLE vice president John Suh. “Elevate is part of our various ‘Last-Mile’ technologies and solutions and it also has ‘Last-100 Feet’ capability too.” Or indeed, ‘Last Flight of Stairs’ capability.
There’s no word on whether this concept will be elevated to becoming a production reality, but as an experiment it certainly seems to be as valid as it is entertaining.
See more images in the gallery, or watch it walk in this video: