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Uber Partners with Hyundai Motor to Launch Uber Air Taxis

Hyundai Motor’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and Uber Elevate Announce Aerial Ridesharing Partnership at CES 2020, Marking Arrival of Uber Air Taxis — an Elevated Ridesharing Experience 
  • At CES 2020, Hyundai has become the first Uber Elevate partner to mass-produce Uber Air Taxis
  • Hyundai’s UAM (Urban Air Mobility) will drive urban air mobility in Uber’s Elevate Network

This week,  Hyundai and Uber have come together to transform the urban aerial mobility network with a unique product proposition. It’s called Urban Air Mobility (UAM), built by Hyundai Motors for Uber’s Elevate program. UAM will develop Uber Air Taxis for a future aerial rideshare network and unveiled a new full-scale aircraft concept. NASA has inspired Uber Elevate’s aerial rideshare concept. Earlier, Uber had announced a goal of flight demonstrations in 2020. This would provide push Uber Elevate for commercial availability to riders from 2023.

At CES 2020, Hyundai Motor has displayed three mobility solutions —

  • Urban Air Mobility (UAM)
  • Purpose Built Vehicle
  • Hub, a place for mobility transfer and community activities

Euisun Chung, Executive Vice Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group said, “Through the partnership with Uber, we will accelerate efforts to harness Hyundai’s businesses and technologies to deliver true freedom of mobility. We will innovate tirelessly to redefine the boundaries of mobility and provide quality time to customers.”

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber CEO commented:

“Hyundai’s large scale manufacturing capabilities offer a major step forward for Uber Elevate. As Hyundai taps its automotive industry experience to mass produce air taxis, we will be able to more quickly take Uber’s platform into the skies, expanding affordable and seamless transportation in cities around the world.”

Read More: AI + Drones = Risk Mitigation for Midstream Operations

What is Hyundai Urban Air Mobility for Uber?

Hyundai UAM is an air vehicle concept released at CES 2020.  It’s created in part through Uber’s open design process. It is a NASA-inspired approach that calls for public reviews and comments on the vehicle design. UAM design concept was created to jump-start innovations with companies that have expertise in engineering technologies.

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.

At the time of this announcement, Eric Allison, Head of Uber Elevate, said,

“Hyundai is our first vehicle partner with experience in 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.”

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Uber has also entered into partnerships with several other highly experienced manufacturers. The list includes:

Jaiwon Shin, Executive Vice President and Head of Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Division, added,

“Our vision of Urban Air Mobility will transform the concept of urban transportation. 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.”

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 rideshare network. Both parties are collaborating on infrastructure concepts to support take-off and landing for this new class of vehicles.

Hyundai’s S-A1 Model to Make Aerial Ridesharing Comfortable

In preparation for this announcement, Hyundai has worked with Uber Elevate to develop a PAV (Personal Air Vehicle) model, S-A1.

S-A1 : Personal Air Vehicle (PAV). eVTOL mobility solution that enables urban air travel
S-A1: Personal Air Vehicle (PAV). eVTOL mobility solution that enables urban air travel, Source: Uber’s Sarah Abboud

S-A1 utilizes innovative design processes to optimize electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for aerial ridesharing purposes.

Uber’s analysis projects that an electric vehicle will travel at a speed up to 200mph and that eventually, after several years in a market, an Uber Elevate ride will cost the same as an UberX trip of the same distance.

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.

Read More: Hyundai Streamlines Integration with the Google Assistant

As a result, Hyundai’s S-A1 model unveiled at CES 2020 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 miles (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, re-transition back to vertical flight for landing.
  • 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 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 is currently on display at Hyundai’s CES booth in Las Vegas Convention Center North Hall, Booth 5431.

Uber Elevate’s Vision to Transform Aerial Rideshare Experiences

To boost smart city development, Uber has entered into real estate partnerships with Hillwood Properties, Related, Macquire, Oaktree, and Signature.

For aerial mobility technologies, Uber has signed two Space Act Agreements with NASA. It includes one for the development of new Unmanned Traffic Management concepts and Unmanned Aerial Systems; and, another to explore concepts and technologies for Urban Air Mobility.

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