Like something out of the TV show Thunderbirds, Hyundai’s walking car concept is set to wow showgoers at the 2019 CES next week in Las Vegas.

Hyundai says the four-legged ‘Elevate’ will redefine our perception of vehicular mobility.

Wheels with robotic legs allow the concept to drive, walk or even climb over the most treacherous terrain.

Call it 4 x More.

This vehicle could have easily emerged from the bowels of Thunderbird 2.

It combines the power of robotics with EV technology to take people where no vehicle has been before.

A walking vehicle is a vehicle that moves on legs rather than wheels or tracks, but the Elevate uses both.

Walking vehicles have been constructed in the past and are classified according to their number of legs, with common configurations being one leg (pogo stick or hopper), two legs (biped), four legs (quadruped), and six legs (hexapod).

There are a few prototypes of walking vehicles in existence.

Almost all of these are experimental or proof of concept, and as such may never see mass production.

A quadruped walker, the General Electric Walking truck, can be seen at the US Army’s Transportation Museum.

While the mobility of walking vehicles is arguably higher than that of wheeled or tracked vehicles, their inherent complexity has limited their use mainly to experimental vehicles.

Examples of manned walking vehicles include General Electric’s Walking truck, the University of Duisburg-Essen’s ALDURO.

Timberjack, a subsidiary of John Deere, built a practical hexapod Walking Forest Machine (harvester).

One of the most sophisticated real-world walking vehicles is the Martin Montensano-built ‘Walking Beast’, a 7-tonne quadrapod experimental vehicle suspended by four hydraulic binary-configuration limbs with much greater dexterity.

And, yes, Thunderbirds has featured a walking vehicle called the Sidewinder in one episode.

It resembles a giant lobster that is powered by an atomic reactor.

The four-legged Sidewinder has two mechanical arms at the front which are used to uproot trees and move aside other obstructions.

The Imperial Walkers from Star Wars also moved on legs.

All will become clear when Hyundai presents the Elevate prototype on January 7.

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.