The Wild, Wacky Creative Underbelly of the Automotive World
Automakers must have a lot of time on their hands, because they come up with some pretty far-out ideas. But hey, that’s how progress is made- ideas that initially seem absurd find their way into common usage in unique ways.
We wanted to let you in on some of the craziest concept cars we’ve heard about over the years. Who knows, you might just find one that slipped through the production cracks and ended up in our Third Coast Auto Group inventory.
Elevate was unveiled just a few months ago at CES in Las Vegas, an annual Consumer Electronics Show. This is a car not limited by wheels: with its sturdy, powerful legs, it can traverse any kind of terrain.
It’s the same justification used for the walking battle tanks of the Metal Gear Solid video game series, and the massive mechs of Japanese pop culture (though Hyundai’s vehicle doesn’t have rocket boosters quite yet). The Hyundai Elevate seems readymade for a post-apocalyptic world where roads are reduced to rubble.
But for our current (for the moment) functioning civilization, Hyundai is pitching this as the ideal vehicle for first-responders, able to clamber over destroyed buildings and debris in the event of an accident or explosion. No more leaving emergency workers to trek in on foot.
It can also climb a building’s steps, taking wheelchair users right up to the front door.
The Hyundai elevate does have wheels; they’re located at the ends of its legs, and can turn sideways to act as feet when in walking mode. When the legs fold under the car, the vehicle can drive almost normally.
Movement technology comes from inside each wheel hub, like on the Mars Curiosity Rover. The vehicle can emulate the walking patterns of both mammals and reptiles. As Hyundai points out, if you get stuck in a ditch, just elevate and climb back onto the road.
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Presented in 2008, this unnerving concept from BMW is forever burned into our memory.
To summarize, the BMW Gina is a fabric-skinned, shape-shifting BMW. It morphs itself automatically based on exterior conditions and speeds. Additionally, the driver can change its shape at will.
There are aluminum rods underneath the fabric and a plethora of other gizmos that work together to make the shape-changing happen. Even the implements within the cabin are movable. We’re not sure what the limitations are for the types of shapes the Gina can assume.
BMW assures that the polyurethane coated spandex material is flexible but durable. It’s also water-resistant and translucent.
The unusual name of the BMW Gina stands for “Geometry and Functions in “N” (Infinite) Adaptations.”
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We have to admit, this last concept isn’t quite so “out there.” But hear us out- sometimes the craziest concept cars are the ones that actually seem feasible to come into existence in the foreseeable future. The Toyota Concept-i falls into this category.
The Toyota Concept-i pursues Toyota’s obsession with creating a bond between vehicle and driver. This time, they factor in a special relationship to the surrounding world as well.
Toyota has been fiddling with this idea at least as far back at 2013, when it unveiled the FV2 at the Tokyo Auto Show. That car also emphasized the bond between driver and vehicle, as a car that gets to know you and allows both to “grow together.”
In the Toyota Concept-i, an AI known as Yui is the middleman between you and the vehicle. The name Yui means “soul.” Yui seems to be a Siri-esque character that, on top of the usual voice interactivity, can detect how the driver and passengers are thinking and feeling and cater to that.
This type of emotional detection service is getting more common, albeit on a more basic level. We’re seeing it in practice now with driver-drowsiness monitoring systems, so it’s not a huge leap to expect it to start appearing in vehicles soon in more advanced forms.
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