At last year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, South Korean carmaker Hyundai motors unveiled a wild concept vehicle that had legs along with wheels. Despite its fantastical design, however, it seems Hyundai is now taking the concept quite seriously. In fact, the company has just established a design studio in Silicon Valley, where it’ll develop the rugged, AT-AT-looking vehicle.
The Detroit News reported on the new Bay Area-based studio, which is focused on the development of UMVs, or Ultimate Mobility Vehicles. Elevate, the UMV in the video above, debuted the line at CES. According to Hyundai, UMVs will target customers who like to travel “in unconventional and off-road terrain,” including places where vehicles have never roamed before. (Like, Mars maybe?)
As the video shows, Elevate goes “beyond the range of wheels” to walk, climb, and traverse otherwise inaccessible terrains. The vehicle’s mechanical legs—which really do look like those of an AT-AT from Star Wars while it’s moving forward—have six degrees of freedom; this allows it to essentially walk around like the big mechanical bug that it is. This is critical because if Elevate is built, it’ll be deployed for search-and-rescue situations and the like.
Elevate, which Hyundai says is a “transformer class” vehicle, will be able to step over five-foot gaps, and spread its legs 15 feet apart, all while keeping passengers level in the cabin. Speaking of which, Elevate’s cabin looks like somebody barfed Tron all over the inside of a Tesla, and it’s beautiful.
In terms of timelines, costs, or anything implying UMVs will be hitting the road anytime soon, there is El Zilcho. And, unfortunately, automakers often trot out innovative concepts without ever pursuing them in earnest. But who knows: a car that looks like a Halo Warthog on AT-AT legs may have a consumer base. Especially if we’re taking colonies on the Moon into account.
Feature image: Hyundai