Uber and Hyundai partner up in newly unveiled aerial ride-sharing service

The newly formed partnership between Uber and Hyundai revealed at CES 2020 has released a full-scale aircraft concept, which is part of an open design process, similar to the process used by NASA that is said to jump-start innovation and inspire innovation amongst multiple companies. This also spurs the development of common research models to investigate novel aerodynamic concepts and catalysing industry progress in wing design, noise, aerodynamics and simulation verification.

The partnership has publicly released vehicle design concepts so any company can use them to innovate their air taxi models.

Hyundai is the first automotive company to join the Uber Elevate initiative, reportedly bringing automotive-scale manufacturing capability and a strong track record of mass-producing electric vehicles.

In this partnership, Hyundai plans to produce and deploy the air vehicles, while Uber will provide airspace support services, connections to ground transportation, and customer interfaces through an aerial rideshare network that will work similarly to how the Uber app currently does. Both parties are said to be working together on developing infrastructure concepts to support the take-off and landing for this new class of vehicles.

Our vision of Urban Air Mobility will transform the concept of urban transportation. We expect Urban Air Mobility (UAM) to vitalise 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,

Jaiwon Shin, Executive Vice President and Head of Hyundai’s UAM Division

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.

Eric Allison, Head of Uber Elevate

Hyundai and Uber Elevate have developed the S-A1 that is said to utilise innovative design processes to optimise electric vertical take-off and landing for aerial ride-sharing purposes.

The PAV model, S-A1, will reportedly include the following features:

  • A cruising speed up to 180 miles/hr (290 km/hr), a cruising altitude of around 1,000-2,000 feet (300 – 600m) above ground, and to fly trips up to 60 miles (100km)
  • The Hyundai vehicle will be 100 per cent electric, utilising distributed electric propulsion and during peak hours will require about five to seven minutes for recharging
  • Hyundai’s electric aircraft utilises 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.

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