Science fiction has stepped onto the road to reality with the creation of the world’s first-ever walking car.
Hyundai unveiled the prototype of its Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV), entitled Elevate, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
The car features four extendable robotic legs, each with wheels attached, so it can change the way it moves depending on terrain.
Not only can it transform from driving to walking mode, it can also adjust its gait from mammalian to reptilian.
The South Korean motor company claims this will see it come into its own as a rescue vehicle after natural disasters.
John Suh, Hyundai’s vice president and head of its Cradle division, said: “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.”
For people with disabilities Elevate could also prove invaluable, according to Hyundai.
Mr Suh added: “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.”
The car manufacturer has been working with industrial design consultancy Sundberg-Ferar for almost three years on the electric vehicle concept.
Elevate has the ability to take people where no car has been before, and redefine our perception of vehicular freedom
It claims Elevate would be able to climb a five-foot vertical wall and step over five-foot gaps with its robotic legs.
But it would still be capable of driving at normal motorway speeds the same as any other car, when the legs are stowed away for drive-mode.
David Byron, Sundberg-Ferar design manager, said: “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.
“Imagine a car stranded in a snow ditch just 10 feet 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.”
The prototype is on view at CES until 11 January.
However, there has been no indication from Hyundai when Elevate might roll off the production line and walk into a car showroom.