Hyundai, Uber Show off Air Taxi Model at CES 2020
This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is proving to be as eventful and exciting as last year for Hyundai Motor Co. as the South Korean carmaker announced its recent collaboration with Uber Elevate at CES 2020—a partnership that seeks to develop an air taxi model meant for a future aerial ride share network.
The unveiled air taxi model, called Uber Air Taxis, came with the reveal of a new full-scale aircraft concept at the tech event.
As the first automotive company to participate the Uber Elevate project, Hyundai brings its automotive-scale manufacturing capability and a proven track record of electric vehicle (EV) mass production to the table, which should help hasten Uber’s efforts to deliver the air taxi model as soon as possible to the public.
The air vehicle concept was developed in part through Uber’s open design process, which the company describes as “a NASA-inspired approach that jump-starts innovation by publicly releasing vehicle design concepts.” This allows interested organizations to use Uber’s designs to progress technologies relating to air taxi systems.
Both Hyundai and Uber plan to create infrastructure concept to support the new class of vehicles, according to Hyundai.
“Our vision of Urban Air Mobility will transform the concept of urban transportation,” said Jaiwon Shin, Executive Vice President and Head of Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Division. “We expect UAM to vitalize urban communities and provide more quality time to people. We are confident that Uber Elevate is the right partner to make this innovative product readily available to as many customers as possible.”
Hyundai’s role in the partnership will be to build and deploy the air transport vehicles, while Uber will be in charge of airspace support services, connections to ground transportation, and customer interfaces through an aerial ride share network.
“Hyundai is our first vehicle partner with experience of manufacturing passenger cars on a global scale,” said Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate. “We believe Hyundai has the potential to build Uber Air vehicles at rates unseen in the current aerospace industry, producing high quality, reliable aircraft at high volumes to drive down passenger costs per trip. Combining Hyundai’s manufacturing muscle with Uber’s technology platform represents a giant leap forward for launching a vibrant air taxi network in the coming years.”
The partnership has already bore fruit with the development of the PAV (personal air vehicle) model, the S-A1, an aircraft designed for electric vertical take-off and landing for aerial ridesharing purposes.
Hyundai’s S-A1 model unveiled at CES reflects previous electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) designs that Uber Elevate has released in the following ways:
- It is designed for a cruising speed up to 290 kmh, a cruising altitude of around 1,000-2,000 feet above ground, and to fly trips up to 100 kms.
- The Hyundai vehicle will be 100-percent electric, utilizing distributed electric propulsion and during peak hours will require about five to seven minutes for recharging.
- Hyundai’s electric aircraft utilizes distributed electric propulsion, powering multiple rotors and propellers around the airframe to increase safety by decreasing any single point of failure. Having several, smaller rotors also reduces noise relative to large rotor helicopters with combustion engines, which is very important to cities.
- The model is designed to take off vertically, transition to wing-borne lift in cruise, and then transition back to vertical flight to land.
- The Hyundai vehicle will be piloted initially, but over time they will become autonomous.
- The cabin is designed with four passenger seats, allowing riders to board/disembark easily and avoid the dreaded middle seat with enough space for a personal bag or backpack/ ider.
Hyundai Motor’s innovative smart mobility solutions including Urban Air Mobility (UAM), Purpose Built Vehicle (PBV) and Hub are on display at Hyundai’s CES booth.
CES 2020 runs from January 7 to 10, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas USA.