That quandary is solved by modern electric vehicle technology, with special propulsion motors mounted inside each wheel, powered by the latest electric actuator technology.
A concept video produced by Hyundai shows the vehicle performing a mixture of driving and walking.
The concept auto, which can apparently climb a five-foot wall and step over a five-foot gap while keeping its body and passengers completely level, is based on a modular EV platform with the capability to switch out different bodies for specific situations.
According to Hyundai, the vehicle can can climb a 1.5 metre wall, step over a 1.5m gap, walk over diverse terrain, and achieve a 4.6m wide track width, while keeping the occupants level. Resembling something from a Transformers film, the vehicles are created to navigate hard terrain by blending electric auto and robotic tech.
But the technology used for Elevate can go well beyond emergency situations.
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Whether or not these hulking semi-robotic quadrupeds will be allowed on the city streets is another story, but Elevate's leg architecture is said to have programming capabilities to mimic both mammalian and reptilian walking gaits.
The thing on display at the Las Vegas Convention Center is called Elevate and has been classified by Hyundai as an Ultimate Mobility Vehicle (UMV). "The possibilities are limitless.", mentions John Suh, VP and Head, Hyundai Cradle.
Hyundai sees its hybrid, multi-use electric invention as a search-and-rescue vehicle that could climb over boulders or debris, or as a taxi that move up a set of stairs and unrolls a wheelchair ramp for disabled passengers.
"It can go where no vehicle has gone before", Suh said.The vehicle's legs can also be folded and stored to allow the robot to drive like a regular vehicle.
Hyundai has been working with Michigan-based industrial design firm Sundberg-Ferar on the project for three years, but has not yet built a full-size working prototype, so it is likely still years away from possibly entering production.