Uber, Hyundai team up to develop air taxis using automotive-scale manufacturing
Chances are that if you've taken an Uber recently, you've seen some new transportation additions to the app like scooters and the availability to share rides. Users can also summon a helicopter straight from their smartphone. Hyundai and Uber have announced a partnership to develop the next-generation of rides to share, Uber Air Taxis.
Hyundai is the first company that has partnered with Uber in their Uber Elevate initiative to bring automotive-scale manufacturing capability to the electric air vehicle development process.
Hyundai and Uber will also collaborate on take-off and landing zone infrastructure.Photo courtesy of Hyundai
As part of the partnership, Hyundai will produce and deploy the air vehicles. Uber will provide airspace support services, connections for users from the air taxis to ground transportation, and customer interfaces through a sharing network. The companies are collaborating on infrastructure concepts to support take-off and landing zones.
"Hyundai is our first vehicle partner with experience of manufacturing passenger cars on a global scale," said Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate. "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."
Hyundai has released information on an air vehicle concept that used Uber's open design process, which was inspired by NASA and encourages publicly releasing vehicle design concepts so any company can use them to innovate.
As part of that design process, Hyundai is revealing:
- The concept air taxi 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.
This initiative is the latest in the in Hyundai's active approach to finding transportation solutions for cities of the future. Earlier this year, the company outlined their vision for those cities at a conference in San Francisco.
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