South Korean automotive manufacturer Hyundai Motor Company has become the first company to partner with ridesharing platform Uber with the goal of developing Uber Air Taxis for future aerial ride sharing.
Hyundai is the first automotive company to join the Uber Elevate initiative and brings with it some serious automotive-scale manufacturing capability as well as a track record of mass-producing electric vehicles – both of which will be integral to getting an aerial ride share network off the ground.
To mark the occasion and cement the partnership’s ambition, the two companies also unveiled a new full-scale aircraft concept at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
Hyundai’s new S-A1 model Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) uses electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) and is designed for a cruising speed of up to 290 km/h (180 miles/h) at a cruising altitude of around 1,000 to 2,000 feet above ground.
The S-A1 will be able to fly trips of up to 100 kilometres, powered 100% by an electric engine using distributed electric propulsion which will, in turn, only require about five to seven minutes for recharging.
The new air vehicle concept was created in part through Uber’s open design process – a NASA-inspired approach that seeks to jump-start innovation by publicly releasing vehicle designs so any company can use them to innovate their own air taxi models and engineering technologies.
Set to be piloted initially at launch, the S-A1 is set to eventually transition to autonomous piloting, with a cabin designed for four passengers.
Hyundai’s new partnership with Uber will see the automotive giant produce and deploy the air vehicles while Uber will provide airspace support services, connections to ground transportation, and customer interfaces through an aerial ride share network.
“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,” added Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate.
“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.”