Hyundai has recently unveiled its latest concept for a car with four bendable robotic legs which will essentially allow the vehicle to "walk" across difficult terrain.
According to The Verge, Hyundai released an animated video detailing the "walking car" at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The vehicle, which the South Korean automaker company has dubbed Elevate, has also been declared the "Ultimate Mobility Vehicle" because it will allow drivers to operate the car through tricky and otherwise inaccessible landscapes.
Each of the four robotic legs fitted on either side of the car has a series of joints and a tire on the end. While the vehicle is in use, these legs will mimic a gait similar to both reptiles and mammals. The length of the legs provides the car with height, thus raising it up from the ground and allowing for significant clearance over rugged landscapes.
While the finished product certainly looks like something out of a science fiction movie, Hyundai expects Elevate will be crucial for first responders, especially during disaster relief efforts.
"When a tsunami or earthquake hits, current resue vehicles can only deliver first responders to the edge of the debris field," John Suh, Vice President and Head of Hyundai CRADLE told Driving. "Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete."
The vehicles are electrically powered and can exchange bodies for whatever the situation requires. Perhaps most impressive, Elevate can use its lengthy limbs to step over a five-foot wall and even clear a five-foot gap, all the while keeping its passengers and body completely level. Hyundai has also revealed the car could even be used as a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.
When such abilities are not needed, the legs can be retracted back into the car as it transforms into "stowed-drive" mode, thus allowing it to drive freely on the road like any other vehicle.
"By combining the power of robotics with Hyundai's latest EV technology, Elevate has the ability to take people where no car has been before, and define our perception of vehicular freedom," David Byron, design manager at Sundberg Ferar, told The Verge.
As of right now, this "walking car" remains simply a concept and there is no full-scale prototype available to demonstrate its full capabilities just yet. However, Hyundai's video gives enough insight into just how bizarrely fascinating the idea of Elevate truly is. Just imagine a future where vehicles could sprout robotic legs and leap over tall walls in a single bound. While the design is definitely a little creepy, the concept seems like it has a lot of life-saving potential.