The future of transportation has been unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas with a fully-electric air vehicle taxi concept that can carry up to four passengers autonomously across the skies at speeds of 180mph.
In a collaboration between automotive giant Hyundai and rideshare company Uber, it took the sheets off a full-scale aircraft concept of a flying taxi that is the first to join Uber’s Elevate initiative.
It 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.
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 aircraft is able to whisk four passengers at speeds of 180 mph (290km) at cruising altitudes between 1,000-2,000ft (300 – 600m) over distances up to 60 miles (100km). At first, the vehicle will be piloted but the plan is to have them fly autonomously in the future.
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.
“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.