We’ve seen a lot of interesting talk of innovation coming out of the auto industry in the past year. Now that the initial focus on converting facilities into ventilator factories has calmed down somewhat, automakers are eager to keep floating fresh ideas by investors. One such idea is Hyundai’s potential move toward (you guessed it) walking cars. 

Okay, so the specifics aren’t hammered out yet, and technically most of this is still speculation, but what we do know as of yet is pretty fascinating. 

So, what’s the deal with Hyundai and walking cars? 

As it turns out, Softbank, one of the world’s leading robotics companies (and maker of Spot, that famous robot dog you’ve seen wandering around Chernobyl and other disaster zones) is looking to sell it’s robotics arm, Boston Dynamics, to the Korean automaker in a deal that could be worth up to 1 billion. 

And while a reason for the deal hasn’t been explained yet, many are drawing connections to Hyundai’s walking car concept that was debuted back in 2019. 

What would this thing look like? 

At that 2019 CES technology convention, Hyundai unveiled Elevate, which featured a number of electric vehicle concepts as legged robots. If you’re thinking of the AT-AT walkers from Star Wars, you’re probably not far off. 

walking cars prototype on stand

It’s a truly interesting concept, and could completely change the way brands approach vehicle design for decades to come. But there’s still one question we’re wondering…

Why legs? 

I asked myself the same thing. Turns out, there’s more to these futuristic looking vehicles than meets the eye. While it’s cool to imagine cruising (or walking?) down the street in your fancy new robot car, these concepts are actually being considered for deployment in search-and-rescue missions. 

As John Suh, vice president at Hyundai said in a recent release, “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”.

What do you think of this concept? Do you think it has legs to stand on? 

Claire Biggerstaff
Claire Biggerstaff is a freelance writer and photographer from Charlotte, NC. Her curiosity leads her to write about a wide variety of topics. On her off days, she enjoys reading Polygon articles, and curling up to a good YouTube playlist.

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    4 Comments

    1. That would be amazing! I know Boston dynamics makes a lot of advancements in the robotic fields. I love watching all their robot videos and what they can accomplish. If they are working towards a car i cant imagine the advances we would make.

    2. So… what kind of headlights would you need for a car with legs?

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