Uber and Hyundai have unveiled a new full-scale aircraft concept at CES 2020, paving the way for a future aerial ride sharing network.
According to a Hyundai press release, the South Korean automaker is the first Uber Elevate partner with manufacturing capabilities to mass produce Uber Air Taxis.
The air vehicle concept was created in part through Uber’s open design process, a NASA-inspired approach that jump-starts innovation by publicly releasing vehicle design concepts so any company can use them to innovate their air taxi models and engineering technologies.
Hyundai will produce and deploy the air vehicles, while Uber will provide airspace support services, connections to ground transportation, and customer interfaces through an aerial ride share network.
Both parties are collaborating on infrastructure concepts to support take-off and landing for this new class of vehicles.
“Hyundai is our first vehicle partner with experience of manufacturing passenger cars on a global scale,” states 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.”
The air vehicle concept 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).
It will be 100% electric, utilizing distributed electric propulsion and during peak hours will require about five to seven minutes for recharging.
The 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.
Image and content: Hyundai