Hyundai and Uber unveil concept for electric air taxi

Hyundai is to develop an electric vertical take-off and landing air taxi as part of the Uber Elevate initiative, which is working towards a future aerial ride share network.

The full-scale concept for an Uber Air Taxi was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which is taking place in Las Vegas this week.

“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.”

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The S-A1 PAV (Personal Air Vehicle) was created in part through Uber’s open design process, a NASA-inspired approach that promotes innovation by releasing vehicle design concepts for any company to use.

As a result of this approach, Hyundai is designing S-A1 to have a cruising speed up to 180mph (290km/hr), a cruising altitude of around 1,000-2,000 feet (300 – 600m) above ground, and to fly trips up to 60 mile (100km).

Uber air taxi
Uber and Hyundai Motor announce Aerial Ridesharing Partnership (Image: Hyundai)

S-A1 will also utilise distributed electric propulsion, powering multiple rotors and propellers around the airframe for noise reduction and increased redundancy.

In use, the four-passenger carrying aircraft will 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 will eventually become autonomous.

In a statement, Hyundai said the partnership will see it produce and deploy the air vehicles, and 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.

“Our vision of Urban Air Mobility will transform the concept of urban transportation,” said Jaiwon Shin, Executive Vice President and Head of Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Division.