Look, we at Jalopnik aren’t here to scare you, and we’re not a front for a scheme selling underground bunkers for the apocalypse. Definitely none of that going on. But we do like to look at things realistically, and this Hyundai “walking car” concept realistically look like something from the War of the Worlds movie.
Hyundai teased its new concept, called Project Elevate, with a photo and brief press release last week. But the concept really found its legs for the Consumer Electronics Show on Monday night, with Hyundai publishing an animated video of the vehicle driving, walking and crawling through all sorts of terrain.
It’ll remind you of every post-apocalyptic movie you’ve ever seen set after the machines have won, or that one Black Mirror episode with the killer robot dogs—both equally great visualizations, really.
In reality, Hyundai wants the Elevate to be the opposite of a killer robot dog, if that term even has an opposite. The Elevate is meant to help first responders in cases like the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, since it can walk and climb across all sorts of terrain. Hyundai said it can also help in more everyday situations, like carrying people in wheelchairs when there aren’t ramps around.
Here’s the idea, via Hyundai vice president John Suh:
“This technology goes well beyond emergency situations - 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 Elevate is on an EV platform and its body can be switched out depending on the situation, hence Hyundai’s photos depicting it as anything from a response vehicle to a city taxi. Its legs have five different joint-type structures, giving it a level of flexibility reminiscent of a robot crab.
Hyundai said the concept can drive on its wheels like any other car at highway speeds, with its legs folded up and tucked in. When its legs come out, the vehicle can walk using both “mammalian” and “reptilian” gaits, one of which is somehow far creepier looking than the other.
Hyundai also claims the Elevate can climb a five-foot wall or step over a five-foot gap—again, both great visualizations.
The uses for vehicles like this seem extensive and profound in terms of helping people trapped in terrain that’s been left nearly impossible to navigate due to natural disasters. But if walking cars in our daily lives don’t remind you of every movie about a dystopian technological future you’ve ever seen, you’re either lying to yourself or lying to everyone else.
Best of luck on your inevitable search for apocalyptic underground bunkers. We might know someone—you know, if it comes to that.