Last week, Hyundai Motor Group announced the formation of New Horizons Studio, a new unit focused on the development of Ultimate Mobility Vehicles (UMVs), including the Hyundai Elevate concept that was unveiled at CES 2019.

The studio will be led by Vice President Dr. John Suh, who has been with Hyundai since 2011 and who brings over 35 years of experience as an innovator to the project. Suh will be working to bring the innovative UMVs to life. The vehicles do not rely solely on wheels, but instead use adaptable robotic technology to avoid obstacles and navigate rugged terrain. This video from CES 2019 highlights some of the possibilities that Hyundai envisions:

In a press release announcing New Horizons Studio, Hyundai detailed a number of the ways UMVs could benefit the world:

A car with robotic legs could save lives as the first responder in natural disasters; or, people who do not have access to an ADA ramp could hail a car to walk up to their front door, level itself, and allow wheelchairs to roll right in. Using a combination of robotics and wheeled locomotion technology, Elevate and other vehicles by New Horizons Studio are expected to redefine vehicular mobility.

Imagine that, hailing a wheelchair taxi to get in and out of a building that is otherwise inaccessible to wheelchair users. Talk about door-to-door service! Of course, disabled people would prefer to see a future marked by universal design (are stairs really necessary in the 21st century?). Nonetheless, the UMVs robotic capabilities could provide disabled people with greater access — not only to the stoop of a New York City flat, but perhaps also to the great outdoors.

Hyundai concept vehicle, with 4 wheels on leg-like fixtures, two on a sidewalk and two at the top of a stoop, with a wheelchair user boarding the vehicle from the rear. Yellow vehicle with NYC Taxi logo on the side.

Where would you ask your wheelchair accessible robot vehicle to take you?

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