Uber and Hyundai have announced a new partnership to develop air taxis for a future aerial ride-share network.
Announcing their partnership at CES 2020, the world’s largest consumer technology fair, the two companies also unveiled a full-scale aircraft concept at the event.
Hyundai is the first automotive company to join the Uber Elevate initiative, bringing automotive-scale manufacturing capability and a track record of mass-producing electric vehicles.
The air vehicle concept was created in part through Uber’s open design process, a NASA-inspired approach that jump-starts innovation by publicly releasing vehicle design concepts so any company can use them to innovate their air taxi models and engineering technologies.
In the partnership, Hyundai will produce and deploy the air vehicles, and Uber will provide airspace support services, connections to ground transportation, and customer interfaces through an aerial ride share network.
Hyundai’s S-A1 model has been designed for a cruising speed of up to 180 miles/hr (290 km/hr), a cruising altitude of around 1,000-2,000 feet (300 – 600 meters) above ground, and flights of up to 60 miles (100 km). Furthermore, the 100% electric vehicle utilises distributed electric propulsion and, during peak hours, requires about five to seven minutes for recharging. The model is designed to take off vertically, transition to wing-borne lift in cruise, and then transition back to vertical flight to land.
As the aircraft is equipped with several smaller rotors, noise is reduced relative to large rotor helicopters with combustion engines — an important consideration considering that the air taxis will primarily be used in urban environments.
Internally, the cabin is designed with four passenger seats, allowing riders to board and disembark easily and avoid the dreaded middle seat with enough space for a personal bag or backpack. the vehicle will be piloted initially, with a view to becoming autonomous in future.
“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 is our first vehicle partner with experience of manufacturing passenger cars on a global scale. 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,” said Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate.
When: 08 Jan 2020
Credit: Hyundai/Cover Images
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