Uber and Hyundai have announced that they are partnering for the development of an aerial ride-sharing network.
Air taxis, small aircraft that take off and land vertically, have received increasing attention in recent years as a potential new form of urban transportation. Although air taxis are yet to become a reality, a number of companies are making moves towards test flights and commercialisation.
The new collaboration will see the companies develop Uber Air Taxis, part of Uber Elevate, the company’s aerial ride-sharing division working to make Uber Air a reality. Uber has said that it intends to begin flight demonstrations in 2020 and make Elevate commercially available to passengers in 2023.
Uber and Hyundai unveiled their aircraft concept, a PAV (Personal Air Vehicle) model named S-A1, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the largest technology show in the world currently taking place in Las Vegas.
The 100% electrical vehicle is powered by rotors and propellers and is designed to reach speeds of 180 miles/hr, travelling up to a distance of 60 miles. Although it will initially be piloted, the vehicle is intended to eventually be autonomous.
The design was developed partly through Uber’s open design process in which the company publicly releases concepts so any organisation can use them to develop their aerial taxi models and inspire industry-wide innovation.
Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate said:
“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.”
As part of the collaboration, Hyundai will produce the aerial vehicles, while Uber will provide support services, connections to other forms of transportation, and customer interfaces. Both companies will be responsible for the necessary infrastructure for take-off and landing.
Jaiwon Shin, executive vice president and head of Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Division said:
“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.”