Watch out Jeep bros, Hyundai’s coming for you


At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Hyundai unveiled the Elevate Concept, its boldest, weirdest concept yet. Dubbed the world’s first Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV), it combines the technologies of cars and that creepy Boston Dynamics robotic dog thing into a single vehicle with a modular electric platform, swappable bodies, robotic legs with five degrees of freedom, and in-wheel propulsion.

The Korean carmaker claims it can walk in either reptilian or mammalian gaits for omnidirectional motion, though there is still no word as to the Elevate’s need to sun itself on hot rocks to warm its cold blood, nor its ability to give live birth or produce milk. Still very much in the 1/5th-scale prototype phase, it seems many details are yet to be sorted.

As a search and rescue vehicle, however, it may come in quite handy. “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 and head of Hyundai CRADLE, the company’s advanced innovation division. “Elevate can drive to the scene and climb right over flood debris or crumbled concrete.” In fact, Hyundai says the Elevate can step over a five-foot gap and climb a five-foot wall. Keep those figures in mind the next time disaster strikes; another foot in the wrong direction and you may be lost forever.

“This technology goes well beyond emergency situations,” Suh continued. “People living with disabilities worldwide [who] 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.” An image illustrating the point shows a yellow and black Elevate in full articulation up the front stairway of an city apartment building, its hatch open, with a man in a wheelchair preparing to enter. There’s still no word on how he might have gotten up the stairs in the first place…

It’s not hard to imagine other practical applications of the Elevate—putting rock-crawling Jeep bros to shame, for instance—but Hyundai maintains any real-world use is still a long way out. In the meantime, we’ll have to rely on good old-fashioned Mustangs leaving Cars and Coffee events to handle those five-foot walls and five-foot gaps.

If you need me, I’ll be in my apocalypse bunker with a 12-year supply of Twinkies.

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