Cars With Legs
This art shows how the Hyundai Elevate might work on and off the road.
Cars are cool when they drive, but what if they could also walk? Hyundai, a company that has been making cars for many years, plans to build two types of vehicles that are half car, half walking robot!
Hyundai calls these cars Ultimate Mobility Vehicles, or UMVs. When they’re on smooth roads, UMVs ride on their wheels, like any other car. But when they reach someplace most cars can’t go—like steps or a pile of rocks—they grow legs! Picture a four-legged robot with a wheel at the end of each leg. The legs can bend and stretch, while the wheels can turn all the way around, allowing the vehicle to go forward, backward, side to side, and even up.
Hyundai introduced the first of these vehicles, called the Elevate, in 2019. According to the company, the Elevate can climb a 5-foot (1.5-meter) wall or step across a 5-foot gap. Hyundai says the Elevate could be used to rescue people after natural disasters, like earthquakes. It could also help people with disabilities. For example, if someone can’t get down their front steps, the Elevate could go right to the top of the staircase to meet the person where they are!
The other vehicle, called the Tiger X-1, was introduced in 2021. It’s similar to the Elevate, but it doesn’t carry people. Hyundai says the Tiger could take supplies to people who are waiting to be rescued after earthquakes. It could also be used on construction sites, or even to explore other planets!
So far, both the Elevate and the Tiger are concept cars. That means they’re still being developed. But in 2022, Hyundai opened a facility in Montana where it will build and test versions of these UMVs. The company hopes to someday put them on the road—and beyond.