Cars have, for as long as they’ve existed, had wheels. Wheels are efficient, reliable, and allow vehicles to move at speed.
Hyundai’s Project Elevate still has four wheels, but it has something else no other car in history has: legs.
What Is Project Elevate?
The project combines electric vehicle technology with cutting edge robotics. Each leg has a wheel at the end, which when folded away allow it to function and look (more or less) like a traditional car. But thanks to its five joints along each of them, it can also walk along difficult terrain. Hyundai is calling it an ‘Ultimate Mobility Vehicle’, thanks to its advanced capabilities.
It’s built from Hyundai’s E-GMP electric car platform, further demonstrating that electric vehicles are going to be the transport of the future. The car’s passive suspension system maximises battery efficiency, allowing it to drive at highway speeds, or climb around difficult environments.
Designed around the concept of ‘vehicular freedom’, this concept allows drivers to go places they never could in a traditional vehicle. Each wheel can be rotated 360 degrees, giving unprecedented mobility.
What Project Elevate Means For The Emergency Services
When relief efforts reach the sites of natural disasters, or rescue teams arrive on the scene, they can only reach the edge of the impact zone. Debris and destruction can stop traditional vehicles from moving further into the area.
The first 72 hours after a disaster strikes are the most crucial in getting survivors out alive. This vehicle would allow faster access to people trapped, or in getting to people that traditional vehicles simply couldn’t reach.
The vehicle’s flexibility and adaptability makes it ideal for search and rescue operations after natural disasters. It’s unique design means the vehicle doesn’t require roads or even flat surfaces to move across: it can climb up and down, and even move laterally, all while keeping its passengers level.
The vehicle is also modular, meaning new technology or hardware could be added onto it. This means we could see ambulances, fire engines, taxis, or even military versions of the Elevate vehicle.
Is Project Elevate The Future Of Transport?
In terms of the long-term demand for this kind of innovation, the design is already being looked at for use in space, perfect for lunar missions across rough and rocky terrain. Having a higher degree of control about where they go, and how they get there, people living and working on the moon will be able to move easily across the surface no matter what is in their way.
While some have criticised the design, no one is doubting the practicality of a vehicle that isn’t restrained by a need for roads.
This kind of bold design allows the automotive field to move forward, upward, and even sideways. It could allow greater access to transport for disabled people, being able to move right up to the door to collect passengers. Taking risks and trying new things allows engineers to push boundaries, and the results are always impressive. In this case, Project Elevate really could save lives.
Read more about how car design has changed since the turn of the century, or find out why flying cars might be here sooner than you think.