Uber and Hyundai Motor Company today announced a new partnership to develop Uber Air Taxis for a future aerial ride-share network and unveiled a new full-scale aircraft concept at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
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 Hyundai released today was created in part through 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 this 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. Both parties are collaborating on infrastructure concepts to support take-off and landing for this new class of vehicles.
“Our vision of Urban Air Mobility will transform the concept of urban transportation,” claimed 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 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,” said Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate.
In preparation for this announcement, Hyundai has worked with Uber Elevate to develop a PAV (Personal Air Vehicle) model, S-A1, that is said to optimize electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for aerial ridesharing purposes.
The Elevate initiative based this process on NASA’s historical approach of putting design concepts out publicly to inspire innovation among multiple companies, spurring the development of common research models to investigate novel aerodynamic concepts and catalyzing industry progress in wing design, noise, aerodynamics, and simulation verification.
As a result, Hyundai’s S-A1 model unveiled at CES reflects previous eVTOL designs Uber Elevate has released in the following ways:
- It is designed for a cruising speed up to 180 miles/hr (290 km/hr), a cruising altitude of around 1,000-2,000 feet (300 – 600 meters) above ground, and to fly trips up to 60 mile (100 km).
- The Hyundai vehicle will be 100% 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 / rider.
Uber has announced a goal of flight demonstrations in 2020 and Elevate commercially available to riders in 2023. Uber entered into partnerships with several manufacturers including Hyundai Motor Group, Aurora Flight Sciences (now a subsidiary of Boeing), Bell, Embraer, Joby Aviation, Pipistrel Aircraft, Karem Aircraft and Jaunt Air Mobility. Uber has also entered into a real estate partnerships with Hillwood Properties, Related, Macquire, Oaktree and Signature.
Uber has signed two Space Act Agreements with NASA one for the development of new Unmanned Traffic Management concepts and Unmanned Aerial Systems; another to explore concepts and technologies for Urban Air Mobility. Uber’s analysis projects that an electric vehicle will travel at a speed up to 200 mph and that eventually, after several years in a market, an Uber Elevate ride will cost the same as an UberX trip of the same distance.
Established in 1967, Hyundai Motor Company has 110,000 employees worldwide, and it has sold more than 4.5 million vehicles. Hyundai Motor continues to expand its product line-up with vehicles, such as NEXO, the world’s first dedicated hydrogen-powered SUV.