Uber and Hyundai Motor Company have announced a new partnership to develop Air Taxis for a future aerial rideshare network. Becoming the first automotive company to join the Uber Elevate initiative, Hyundai unveiled a new full-scale aircraft concept at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Bringing automotive-scale manufacturing capability and a track record of mass-producing electric vehicles, the Korean carmaker’s air vehicle concept was created in part through Uber’s open design process. It is 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 rideshare network. Both parties are collaborating on infrastructure concepts to support take-off and landing for this new class of vehicles.
In preparation for this announcement, Hyundai has worked with Uber Elevate to develop a PAV(Personal Air Vehicle) model, S-A1, that utilizes innovative design processes 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 amongst 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.
Some salient features of the S-A1 are as follows:
- 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 mt) above ground, and to fly trips up to 60 miles (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
- Hyundai’s exploration of future urban transportation incorporates the electric PAV concept with new ground transportation, the Purpose Built Vehicle(PBV) concept. Hyundai’s vision for creating communities from future transit systems comes into focus with yet another new infrastructure concept, called the Hub. When many PBVs and PAVs are docked and connected to a Hub, they make a new public space where diverse groups of people can come together