Yesterday, Uber and automaker Hyundai announced a partnership and unveiled a new air taxi with a 60-mile range at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft can travel up to 180 miles per hour. “The partnership is a significant milestone for Uber Elevate. Hyundai’s mass production history and resources mean they can build Air Taxis at the scale we need, to make aerial ridesharing a reality in cities around the world,” said Uber in a public tweet.

As the above statement infers, Hyundai will produce and deploy the air taxis while Uber will be responsible for airspace support services, connections to ground transportation, and customer interfaces through an aerial ride share network. Hyundai and Uber Elevate have collaborated on their S-A1 Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) designed for ridesharing purposes.

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.

The S-A1 was developed through Uber’s open design process. Based on NASA’s approach of publicly releasing vehicle design concepts, any company can use them for their own development of air taxis. Hyundai and Uber already have company in the PAV market as Porsche has partnered with Boeing to develop an eVTOL vehicle while Daimler has invested in Volocopter, an electric air taxi start up.

“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.”

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