2019 Hyundai Elevate Concept
Hyundai Elevate Can Walk As A Reptile or A Mammal Over Any Imaginable Terrainby Safet Satara, on
I thought I had sen it all, but then Hyundai revealed the Elevate Concept, an Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV), at this year’s CES. It is a car. Actually, a vehicle that can drive and that can walk. Yup, you’ve read that right. The Hyundai Elevate Concept is one of the latest projects that has developed in the minds of Hyundai designers heads from the Hyundai Cradle Center for Robotic-Augmented Design. These people are obviously buried into sci-fi, or, at least, into things that Boston Dynamics does with its robots. Hyundai Cradle created a vehicle that looks a bit like that Boston Dynamic cyberdog, or the Star Wars AT-AT walker. But the Hyundai Elevate Concept isn’t supposed to go to war (well, it is a bit). In fact, it is an out-of-the-box design exercise that shows the possibilities for an all-terrain vehicle that weren’t explored before.
And, with this, I do not imply comparing it with the machines that can conquer Moab. The Elevate Concept is a vehicle designed to help the unfortunate in search-and-rescue missions, on humanitarian missions, or to walk over terrain no vehicle has ever managed to traverse. Its go-anywhere capability is unmatched even by the most extreme offroad machines you can think of. All because of the robotic legs with tires linked on far ends. Actually, as I visually inspect the Elevate Concept, I am rather sure that a similar sketch exists somewhere in a NASA office in a drawer where all the rejected designs for Mars rovers reside. I get that vibe from this. It’s like Hyundai designers looked to create a vehicle for the Earth from the perspective of some “alien NASA” designers. I actually like it a lot.
The Hyundai Cradle, a Center for Robotic-Augmented Design in Living Experiences, that actually envisioned the vehicle, managed to craft something that goes well beyond what a standard car, or a truck, can do. The Hyundai Elevate Concept can walk, climb, and traverse almost every kind of terrain.
2019 Hyundai Elevate Concept
Now, you should forget everything you know about car design. The Elevate Concept has basically been designed around the robotic legs that sit on its four corners. No Fluidic Sculpture here. At all. Only pure form and function. With a friendly attitude, I might add.
As one of the most imaginative CES concepts this year, the Hyundai Elevate actually does not have a uniform exterior look.
Instead, its frame (wheels on legs with six hip points and the mainframe with 66-kWh batteries between it) serves as a platform for the addition of different kind of cabins. So, with a body set on the frame, one can even call the Elevate a body-on-frame vehicle. Actually, we already have a name for this arrangement. We call it the Skateboard platform.
Hyundai gifted us with a number of different options for the Elevate Concept body. We can see it as an NYC taxi, as a search and rescue vehicle, as an army transport, or just as a shuttle.
Obviously, different purposes require a slightly different exterior design, adapted for a certain use.
In essence, with a frame like this, the body and the cabin are both just a pod that attaches according to certain needs. I can imagine, say, a police force with five different pods for five different applications parked in a garage with only one frame and a rig that can easily shift pods on the frame. In that sense, not only does the Elevate provide unmatched freedom on the terrain, but it can also be adapted for different applications.
“By combining the power of robotics with Hyundai’s latest EV technology, Elevate has the ability to take people where no car has been before, and redefine our perception of vehicular freedom,” said Design Manager David Byron.
“Imagine a car stranded in a snow ditch just 3 meters 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.”
So, after all this has been said, I can conclude that the exterior design depends on the vehicle application. You cannot expect a New York Taxi that moves on the highway and in the city to look the same as a search and rescue vehicle, can you now? This gives a proper utilitarian essence to the overall idea behind the Elevate Concept.
Hyundai did not reveal any photos of the interior, but I can tell you right away that the NYC Taxi interior isn’t the same as the rescue vehicle interior. In fact, Hyundai PR gurus wrote only one sentence about the Elevate Concept interior:
“Inside the Elevate, passengers would experience a vehicle fully engineered to tackle the roughest terrain comfortably.”
Honestly, I do not see the Elevate with the gear from the Palisade.
If this thing, by some magic, comes to life, the Elevate Concept would probably have a utilitarian interior but garnished with all the modern-age stuff such as the USB ports, screens, air-con, and nice ergonomic seats.
Waterfall dashboard with ambient lights and soft-touch materials on the doors? Forget about it!
Drivetrain and Tech
Standard propulsion methods would never allow for the creation of a car like this. Just imagine if the Elevate had axles. With axles, it could not have legs, nor wheels that can turn in any direction.
Electric Hub motors, however, enabled the Hyundai Cradle designers to create such a fine machine.
Four motors located in four wheels are placed at the ends of the large robotic legs with five hip points. These points basically allow the legs to move in more directions than human legs. Thus, Hyundai programmed the Elevate Concept to move in a mammalian fashion and in a reptilian fashion. Plus, it can climb.
In fact, let me show you exactly what Hyundai revealed in its press release about the Elevate Concept capabilities.
“The legs also fold up into a stowed drive-mode, where power to the joints is cut, and the use of an integrated passive suspension system maximizes battery efficiency. This allows Elevate to drive at highway speeds just like any other vehicle. But no other can climb a five-foot wall, step over a five-foot gap, walk over diverse terrain, and achieve a 15-foot wide track width, all while keeping its body and passengers completely level.”
Furthermore, the main capabilities include:
- Robotic legs with five degrees of freedom plus in-wheel propulsion,
- Ability to walk in a mammalian and a reptilian style gaits for omnidirectional motion,
- Capable of climbing a five-foot vertical wall,
- Step over a five-foot gap,
- Non-back drivable motors enable the legs to lock in any position,
- Modular electric vehicle platform.
As all of this is rather hard to imagine, I found a nice video on the Elevate Concept that showcases what this concept is actually capable of. If you are into this thing, I highly suggest you watch it.
The four electric motors get all the needed power from 66 kWh batteries located on the floor between the legs.
The same batteries supply power for the hip points (joints) on the legs that elevate or lower the frame as per instructions or needs. Furthermore, the Elevate Concept is fully able to fold the legs, lock the joints, and lean the legs against coilovers for driving on the highway (the Elevate is capable of highway speeds, mind you). Quite a clever arrangement, wouldn’t you say?!
If Hyundai Cradle manages to produce a full-size working prototype with all the capabilities shown in the pictures and on the videos you could see here, I will be amazed. This thing looks complicated, and I am not certain how that walking, jumping thingy would work in the real world. However, we do have rovers on Mars. Read that again. Rovers on Mars. And they work. Like, really well. Yes, Hyundai can definitely build this and probably provide another solution for the unfortunate in the areas with natural disasters, or any other types of disaster.
Hyundai Cradle is definitely focused on solving many “search and rescue” issues with the UMV.
“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 Vice President and Head of Hyundai CRADLE.
“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.”
I don’t know if I am just hyped up about this, but I really want the Elevate Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV) to be a thing.
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