Hyundai Elevate: the walking car at CES 2019

Published: 10 January 2019

► A new 'walking' concept at CES
► Made for first 72 hours of disaster response
► Has a normal driving mode, too

At this year’s CES show, both Mercedes and Hyundai revealed a brand new car – but unlike Merc’s CLA, you won’t be mistaking Hyundai Elevate for anything else. Designed to be the ultimate search, rescue and extrication vehicle, the Elevate concept is described by its South Korean makers as a ‘walking car.’ And it's quite unlike anything else we've seen from a car maker for years. 

More from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

A walking car?

Hyundai is calling the Elevate a Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV), and says it’s been made to help respond to emergencies and natural disasters during the first 72 hours – usually the most critical point. And because topography and conditions are usually at their most extreme in that window, the Elevate uses a novel form of transport.

Take a look at the wheel-on-stalks on the new Elevate, and you’ll notice it also resembles something like Nasa’s Martian and Lunar rovers. Extreme.

'When a tsunami or earthquake hits, current rescue vehicles can only deliver first responders to the edge of the debris field,' said John Suh, vice president and head of Hyundai’s CRADLE tech intiative. '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.'

‘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,’ he added.

Why legs?

They may look sci-fi, but the Elevate's robotic legs hand it a number of advantages over a conventional or track-based form of propulsion. A span of five feet means the UMV can surmount a wall, climb across a gap – and it can also move in any direction.

What’s more, Hyundai says it’d be able to walk in both mammalian- and reptilian-style gaits, depending on the conditions being faced.

And when the roads are a little less troublesome, the robotic legs can be folded away in a simple drive mode.


While the Elevate shown at CES is primarily designed for emergency use, Hyundai says the UMV would use a modular form of construction, so other attachments or kits could be added. Hyundai has already shown a taxi version of the Elevate, so we expect to see more iterations in the future.

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast