CES is all about gadgets and everything electronics, and slowly over the last few years, electric cars have made it to the expo as well. Yesterday, Nissan announced its new EV -- The Leaf. It can run for more than 360 km on a single charge and goes up against the Chevrolet Bolt, Hyundai Kona, and Kia Niro.
Electric Vehicles are becoming mainstream (not yet in India!), and Hyundai wants to take this a step further. Hyundai Elevate is the company's “walking car” concept that's not actually meant to take you over a traffic jam. It would deploy robotic legs to basically walk over rough terrain. It looks like a perfect combination of Boston Dynamics and Tesla.
The car is the first Ultimate Mobility Vehicle, intended to blend technology found in robots and electric cars, allowing it to traverse terrain that even the most capable off-road vehicles are unable to navigate. Hyundai claims that vehicles based on the concept could one day be used to save lives in response to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, forest fires or floods.
"When a tsunami or earthquake hits, current rescue vehicles can only deliver first responders to the edge of the debris field," said John Suh, Hyundai vice president.
The company explained that these vehicles are the "last mile" support group that can tread into uneven terrain where conventional vehicles cannot. They also added the vehicle has both mammalian and reptilian walking gaits and hence can climb a 5 feet wall or gap. The platform is modular, so the body can be swapped out as needs are.
Hyundai Elevate's robotic legs can enable it to walk at 3 miles per hour aside from being able to climb a 1.5-meter wall and even jump a 5 feet gap. Another use case explained by the company was, the car can walk up to a front door or a few steps of the porch and make accessibility easier for the differently abled.
Mr Suh also suggested that wheelchair users could be collected via the vehicles, which could "walk" up to the front door of a building with step-only access.
As of now, there is no full-scale prototype and we've only seen computer generated videos of a not-to-scale model performing its featured leg stretches. Given how difficult it is to coordinate the four-leg movement, the materialization of these concepts is far away.