Hyundai has unveiled an unusual “walking” concept vehicle that it claims is the first car with “moveable legs”. Dubbed the Hyundai Elevate, the Korean firm says the concept can traverse terrain “beyond the limitations of even the most capable off-road vehicle”.

The Elevate concept is based on a modular electric vehicle platform, which Hyundai says includes the capability to switch out different bodies for specific situations. The robotic leg architecture features five degrees of freedom plus wheel hub propulsion motors and is enabled by the “latest in electric actuator technology”.

This design, says Hyundai, is “uniquely capable of both mammalian and reptilian walking gaits”, essentially allowing it to move in any direction.

Furthermore, the legs can fold up into a stowed drive mode, where power to the joints is cut, allowing the Elevate to drive at highway speeds.

Hyundai says the walking concept can climb a five-foot wall, step over a five-foot gap, walk over diverse terrain and achieve a 15-foot track width, all while keeping its body and passengers “completely level”.

This, as the automaker points out, makes the concept well suited to first responders in emergency situations.

“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,” said John Suh, vice president and head of Hyundai Cradle, the firm’s corporate venturing and open innovation business.

“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.”