Uber and Hyundai Teams Up To Develop Electric Air Taxis That Can Fly 60 miles At Cruising Speeds Of 180mph
Uber and Hyundai have joined forces to develop taxis of the future that will fly people to their destinations.
The US ride-hailing company and South Korean automaker plan to jointly create electric air taxis that won’t get stuck in traffic jams.
Hyundai unveiled a concept electric aircraft developed with Uber at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday, which is designed to fly on trips of up to 60 miles and has a cruising speed of up to 180 miles per hour.
Uber has pledged to begin demonstrator urban flights in 2020 and commercial operations in 2023 as part of its project.
While it already has Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences as one of its partner firms, Hyundai is the first car maker to team up with the ride-hailing company on a flying vehicle project.
Boeing said in October it was also working with Volkswagen’s sports car brand, Porsche, to develop a concept electric flying vehicle capable of transporting people in urban areas.
In a joint statement made in Vegas this week, the two parties said: ‘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.’
The electric concept Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) has been named S-A1.
It is capable of vertical take-off and landing and is purposely designed for aerial ride-sharing purposes.
It is designed for a cruising speed up to 180mph flying at an altitude of around 1,000 to 2,000 feet above ground, and for trips up to 60 mile before needing to be charged.
The Hyundai vehicle will be 100 per cent electric, utilizing distributed electric propulsion and during peak hours will require about five to seven minutes for recharging.
The electric source powers 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 S-A1 can be piloted, but over time the two companies say they want the air taxis to be autonomous.
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.
It’s the latest in a raft of flying car projects that are in the early stages of development, including Japanese electronics maker NEC’s prototype revealed at the end of last year, which resembles a large drone and is powered by four propellers.
Plane makers, car manufacturers and technology firms are jumping into the electric flying car segment in a bid to ease urban congestion and reduce vehicle emissions.
All projects are in their infancy and significant technological and regulatory hurdles remain to be addressed before they can be brought to market.
Last year, Hyundai hired Shin Jai-won, a veteran aeronautics engineer from NASA, to head its newly established Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Division, and pledged to invest $1.5 billion)in what it called ‘urban air mobility’ by 2025.
He said: ‘Our vision of Urban Air Mobility will transform the concept of urban transportation.
‘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.
Eric Allison, head of Uber’s Elevate department, added: ‘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.’