Part car and part robot, the unstoppable Hyundai Elevate walks over obstacles

Hyundai unveiled an unstoppable, science fiction-esque design study at CES 2019 that’s part car, part robot. Called Elevate, it’s a walking, van-like vehicle developed to help first responders travel over rough terrain that would stop even the most rugged SUV dead in its tracks.

The South Korean firm presented the Elevate as the ultimate mobility vehicle. It combines aspects of robotics and electric vehicle technology into a unique four-legged prototype that’s unlike anything we’ve seen before. While the possible uses of a car that walks are almost infinite, Hyundai is focusing at first on emergency response situations. The slim body of the vehicle has enough room to carry a stretcher with a patient aboard, and the large side doors are a way for responders to load patients in and treat them in place. The extendable legs with wheels on the ends are what allows the vehicle to move over various terrains, as they can roll like normal wheels or be extended to walk over obstacles or rough ground.

“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. Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete,” said John Suh, Hyundai’s vice president and the head of its robot-focused CRADLE division, during the unveiling.

Suh said Hyundai sees many additional use cases for the Elevate. “People living with disabilities worldwide that don’t have access to an [Americans with Disabilities Act] 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,” he added.

Though technical specifications remain few and far between, and it doesn’t sound like Hyundai has built a working prototype yet, the firm noted that the Elevate rides on a modular electric platform that lets users swap out the body with relative ease. It can serve as an ambulance on one day and perform taxi duties the following day. What’s under the body stays the same regardless of how the top part is configured. The legs are powered by in-wheel electric motors, and autonomous technology allows the Elevate to navigate in a wide array of conditions. It can climb a 5-foot vertical wall, step over a 5-foot gap, walk like a reptile or like a mammal, and lower itself to drive at 75 mph on the freeway like a normal car.

Teaching a car how to walk is just as difficult as it sounds. Hyundai has worked on the Elevate concept for the past three years. Hyundai told Digital Trends the Elevate is just a research project at this time.

Updated January 7, 2019: Added full information about the Elevate concept.

Cars

Lyft and Aptiv’s self-driving car program has come a long way (but not far enough)

Many companies talk about self-driving cars, but Lyft and Aptiv are already using a fleet of them to transport paying customers in Las Vegas. Hop in for a close look at the tech of autonomous cars, and the challenges they face.
Cars

Muscle cars, trucks, and EVs roared into the subdued 2019 Detroit Auto Show

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show was the quietest edition of the event in recent memory, but that doesn't mean nothing significant happened inside the Cobo Center. Here are the new cars and concepts we saw at the show.
Cars

Hyundai’s Veloster N hot hatchback will prove its mettle on the track

The Hyundai Veloster N will go racing to prove the credibility of Hyundai's new N performance division. Unveiled at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Veloster N race car will compete in a class with other small cars.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Cars

In McLaren’s 600LT Spider, the engine is the only sound system you’ll need

The McLaren 600LT Spider is the inevitable convertible version of the 600LT coupe, itself a lighter, more powerful version of the McLaren 570S. The 600LT Spider boasts a 592-horsepower, twin-turbo V8, and a loud exhaust system to hear it…
Cars

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Cars

Driving Daimler’s 40-ton eCascadia big rig isn’t just fun, it’s electrifying

Daimler Trucks brought its all-electric eCascadia semi-truck to the 2019 CES, and invited us to take the wheel. What does it feel like to drive one? Simply electrifying, of course.
News

Ford has a plan to future-proof the hot-selling F-150 pickup truck

Worried about the threat of rising gas prices, Ford will add the F-150 to its growing portfolio of electrified vehicles. It is currently developing a hybrid F-150, and it will release an electric version of the next-generation truck.
Cars

Ford’s Mustang-inspired electric crossover will spawn a Lincoln luxury version

Lincoln will get its own version of parent Ford's first mass-market, long-range electric vehicle. While Ford's version will have styling inspired by the Mustang, Lincoln will take a more traditional approach.
Home Theater

Spotify adds simplified Car View mode for Android users

What was once just a test is now a reality: Spotify is rolling out a new, simplified in-car user interface for all Android users called Car View, which automatically engages when the app detects a car Bluetooth connection.
Cars

Boutique carmaker Karma Automotive, legendary design firm Pininfarina team up

Karma Automotive is partnering with legendary Italian design firm Pininfarina on future luxury cars. The first product of that partnership will appear later this year, Karma said, without offering other details.
Cars

Sibling rivalry: 2019 BMW Z4 takes on the 2020 Toyota Supra

BMW and Toyota forged an unlikely partnership when they set out to build a sports car platform together. Here, we examine the similarities and differences between the 2019 Z4 and the 2020 Supra.
Cars

Tesla cuts workforce by 7 percent, ends referral program to trim costs

Tesla has announced plans to trim its workforce by seven percent, and it will end the referral program that rewards customers who help it sell cars. These measures are ways to cut costs and boost profits.
Cars

Worried about commuting in winter weather? Nissan has the answer

The Nissan Altima midsize sedan is now available with all-wheel drive. To advertise that fact, Nissan's Canadian division slapped some tank-like tracks on an Altima to create a one-off show car.