Hyundai and Autodesk Collaborate to Develop “Walking Car” Prototype
Korean carmaker Hyundai and American software expert Autodesk have joined forces to develop a novel type of car that can walk. Hyundai has flirted with the idea of developing a UMV (Ultimate Mobility Vehicle) for quite a while now, and even presented a concept at CES 2019 called the “Elevate”. This time, Autodesk will help the Koreans create the car for real.
The Elevate is going to be a car in the sense that it’ll feature four wheels. Where it will differentiate from the rest is by actually fixing the wheels on unfolding legs that can extend from the cabin and carry the weight of the car. These legs will use high-torque electric motors on their joints, so the vehicle will be able to “walk” on extremely uneven terrains.
The structural engineering aspect of this endeavor is very complex, and there’s also a lot of materials science to consider, how payloads will be handled, and how forces will be distributed. This is what Autodesk is going to undertake while Hyundai will focus on how the parts are going to be manufactured and assembled.
If the “Elevate” actually becomes a reality, it would be a mean machine for emergency respondents and search and rescue teams looking to traverse through rumble following a catastrophe like an earthquake for example.
Of course, the army would have a sincere interest in the “Elevate” too, space exploration engineering teams could “copy” some useful elements from it, and even mobility chair manufacturers would realize a whole world of new potential. That said, there’s a mix of utilization scenarios for this concept car and its various possible iterations.
This project is so complex that even discussing it for real underlines how far ahead engineering design, manufacturing, and technology in general has gone. Hyundai appears determined to go for it and the fact that Autodesk joined the effort indicates that this appears to be something realistically feasible.