No, this isn’t a new lunar rover you’re looking at, or a Star Wars creation. But Hyundai’s new walking car concept for CES is just about as otherworldly. Called the Elevate, this futuristic vehicle—which is entirely hypothetical at this point, mind you—has four wheels mounted on robotic legs that can move around in all sorts of different configurations to traverse essentially any terrain you can imagine.
The legs, which have articulating hips, knees, and ankles, can be programmed to move in a variety of different ways. It starts off with stuff we’ve seen before—passive and active suspension modes—and then things get wild: In Reptilian walking mode, it moves like a lizard with the legs splayed out to the sides, while in Mammalian walking mode it’s more like a dog, with the legs articulating beneath the car’s body. An Omnidirectional walking mode combines both walking techniques to adapt to different kinds of terrain. The Elevate can also apparently do crazy things—again, theoretically—such as scale a five-foot vertical wall and step over a five-foot gap.
How does it all work? Details are slim, as this technology only really exists in the virtual world so far. But the company does say that the Elevate has a 66.0-kWh battery pack and that electric motors for each leg are geared to allow the legs to lock in any position.
By now, you’re probably asking: Why? Well, Hyundai imagines multiple uses for such a vehicle and says that the Elevate’s modular architecture can accommodate different bodies that can be swapped out. An ambulance, for instance, with side- and front-opening doors to serve as a search-and-rescue vehicle during natural disasters including earthquakes. Or as a taxi for disabled people that could walk up stairs.
When will we see anything remotely like this in the real world? We wouldn’t count on it any time soon. But isn’t it fun to imagine the possibilities?