The Consumer Electronics Expo in Las Vegas has long been a bastion of gadgety for everyday folks to embrace and enjoy. In recent years it’s also become an occasional venue for automakers to present cool tech for automobiles, but admittedly, we’re scratching our heads over this full-blown quad-rotor concept aircraft that Hyundai has for Vegas-bound showgoers.
Actually, we’re not really scratching our heads here. Hyundai has an ambitious initiative to step into the world of mobility solutions, which in-part includes this rather large tilt-rotor aircraft. The automaker partnered with Uber to produce this concept – known simply as an Urban Air Taxi – which will ferry people around cities. Hyundai will produce the vehicles, and Uber will handle the red tape associated with minor issues like airspace control and connecting people on the ground to the air taxis. You know, the sort of stuff that requires you to arrive 90 minutes before your scheduled departure time at airports.
Gallery: Hyundai / Uber Rideshare Air Taxi Concept
The goal here is to obviously streamline the process and turn ridesharing into something that can go airborne without the same hassle you might find at an airport. To that end, Hyundai says it and Uber will work on infrastructure for take-off and landing for “this new class of vehicle.” Perhaps it’s better, then, to think of this not as a flying, ridesharing taxi, but a helicopter that can seat five people. Of course, there are already such machines known as helicopters, but that's not the point.
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Will any of this come to fruition? Hyundai is serious to the point of having its own Urban Air Mobility Division, though this air taxi is strictly a concept right now. We’ve seen similar ideas from other automakers regarding flying cars and air taxis, but none seem to address the litany of rules and regulations that strictly govern all flying machines. That's why garages are filled with SUVs, not personal mobility helicopters.
But, wowing crowds with flying cars is a great way to garner attention on new mobility projects and partnerships with more conventional aspirations, and personal mobility does have some connection to consumer-grade tech. Hence why Hyundai is showing this crazy concept at Las Vegas, and why we’re writing about it.
Uber and Hyundai Motor Announce Aerial Ridesharing Partnership, Release New Full-Scale Air Taxi Model at CES
- Hyundai is the first Uber Elevate partner with manufacturing capabilities to mass produce Uber Air Taxis
- Hyundai’s UAM (Urban Air Mobility) will vitalize cities by enabling on-demand urban air mobility in Uber’s Elevate Network
LAS VEGAS, January 6, 2020 – Uber and Hyundai Motor Company have 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 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.
Media images of Hyundai’s air vehicle concept are available here.
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,” 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.
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.
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 mt) 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.
Ushering in the era of seamless mobility, Hyundai’s exploration of future urban transportation incorporates the electric PAV concept with a 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.
Hyundai Motor’s innovative smart mobility solutions including UAM, PBV, Hub and more will be showcased at Hyundai’s CES booth in Las Vegas Convention Center North Hall, Booth 5431.