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Hyundai Unveils Walking Vehicle Concept For Disaster Response

A Hyundai Elevate climbs itself out of a snow covered ditch.

image : Hyundai

Hyundai has unveiled a walking vehicle concept made for quick and less-stressful transportation in an event of disasters like earthquake, forest fire, hurricane or flood. The new concept dubbed Elevate blends technology from electric vehicles and robots which allows it to ride on rough terrains "beyond the limitations of even the most capable off-road vehicle", Hyundai says.

It's based on a modular EV platform with the capability to switch to different bodies for specific situations. It features a robotic leg architecture with five degrees of freedom plus wheel hub propulsion motors enabled by electric actuator technology and is capable of both mammalian and reptilian walking gaits, allowing it to move in any direction.

Hyundai Elevate in drive mode.

image : Hyundai

It can also drive like normal vehicles when its legs are folded up and power to the joints cut with use of an integrated passive suspension system for maximum battery efficiency at the command of the driver. Elevate can then drive at normal speeds in highways in this mode but is capable of climbing a five foot wall, stepping over a 5 foot gap, walking over diverse terrain and achieving a 15 foot wide track width while keeping its passengers stable when taken into action, Hyundai says.

A combination of wheeled motion with articulating legs enables for faster walking speeds, unique dynamic driving postures and torsional control at the end of each leg, Hyundai also says. “Imagine a car stranded in a snow ditch just 10 feet off the highway being able to walk or climb over the treacherous terrain, back to the road potentially saving its injured passengers – this is the future of vehicular mobility.” Industrial design company Sundberg-Ferar (collaborator with Hyundai) design manager David Byron said.

The Hyundai Elevate Concept helps a person get to a doctor appointment in a city.

image : Hyundai

In summary, features of the walking vehicle concept include:

  • Robotic legs with five degrees of freedom plus in-wheel propulsion.
  • Capability to climb a five foot vertical wall.
  • Non-back drivable motors that enable the legs to lock in any position.
  • Capability to step over a five foot gap and
  • Ability to walk in mammalian and reptilian style manner for omnidirectional motion.
“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,” Hyundai vice president John Su says.

Hyundai Elevate demonstrates its mammalian walking posture.

image : Hyundai

“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.”

Hyundai has worked with Sundberg-Ferar on the Elevate Concept for almost three years, “Elevate is part of our various ‘Last-Mile’ technologies and solutions and it also has ‘Last-100 Yards’ capability too.” design manager Byron added.


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