Hyundai launches Urban Air Mobility Division with ex-NASA research chief at the helm

By Lucy Ingham

Hyundai has become the latest company to delve into the world of futuristic ‘flying car’ type technologies with the launch of its Urban Air Mobility Division.

The division is, according to Hyundai, set to “provide innovate and smart mobility solutions never seen or thought of before”.

It will be run by Dr Jaiwon Shin, an internationally renowned aeronautics engineer with a three-decade-long career at NASA, most recently as the associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.

“Having worked on cutting-edge aviation research and development at NASA for 30 years, I am very excited and humbled by the opportunity to now shape urban air mobility strategy at Hyundai Motor Group,” said Shin, who takes the title of executive vice president and head of the Urban Air Mobility Division.

“The new team at Hyundai will develop core technologies that will establish the company as a driving force in urban air mobility, a sector that is expected to grow into a market worth $1.5tn within the next 20 years.”

Hyundai Urban Air Mobility Division takes on Uber and beyond

Futuristic air-based transport solutions – the real-world answer to the much-promised flying cars – are increasingly on the rise, as companies look to the skies to solve growing urban congestion problems.

Uber is one of the leaders in this emerging space, with its autonomous Uber Air project set to roll out in Los Angeles.

Other key players include German startup Lilium, while Boeing and Airbus have also developed their own electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) concepts that are set to provide the next step on from the humble helicopter.

Hyundai’s investment in this area is a vote of confidence in the potential of air-based urban transport technologies, suggesting the company believes there is serious money to be made from the sector.

The appointment of such a key aeronautics figure further shows how seriously the company is taking its Urban Air Mobility Division.

Shin has worked on a host of relevant projects and technologies during his time at NASA, including the supersonic X-plane, the electrification of aircraft, traffic management for unmanned aerial systems and urban air mobility solutions.


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