At the CES this year, Hyundai and Uber have announced their cooperative effort to build air taxis to be used on the Uber platform Elevate. The two companies also presented the S-A1, a prototype for such an electrically powered vertical take-off aircraft.
The commercial launch of Uber Elevate is scheduled for 2023. Aircraft from various manufacturers are to be used there – one of them will probably be Hyundai. The Korean company only officially presented their “Strategy 2025” roadmap at the beginning of December, under which the auto sector is to be converted into “smart mobility devices” – including personal air vehicles (PAV).
At the CES, Hyundai just presented a model of the S-A1 aircraft, which has a total of eight rotors – four of these have two blades and the other four have five rotor blades. The cabin is designed to accommodate four passengers and one pilot and, according to Hyundai manager Youngcho Chi, will be produced on the “scale of the automobile industry”.
The all-electric aircraft is to be able to fly at speeds of up to 290 km/h, and moderate speeds up to 100 kilometres should be possible. Hyundai states that the flight altitude will be between 300 and 600 metres. The rotors with two blades exclusively provide lift, while those with five blades can be tilted – sometimes upwards for helicopter-like vertical take-off or, as in a propeller aircraft, in the direction of flight at cruising speed. The many small rotors should also be significantly quieter than the large rotor of a helicopter.
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According to the manufacturer, Urban Air Mobility should change the concept of urban traffic itself. “We expect UAM to vitalize urban communities and provide more quality time to people,” said Jaiwon Shin, Executive Vice President and Head of Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Division. “We are confident that Uber Elevate is the right partner to make this innovative product readily available to as many customers as possible”.
As expected, Uber also emphasised how satisfied the new cooperation partner is. “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,” said Eric Allison, Uber Elevate’s director. The volumes that Uber expects will be much closer to those in the auto industry rather than the manageable production rates of traditional aircraft. For this reason, the US company apparently believes that such production is more likely to be carried out by a car manufacturer than an aircraft manufacturer.
In addition to the S-A1, Hyundai has also presented the S-Link concept. The electric multi-purpose platform is strongly reminiscent of the Toyota e-pallet or the Mercedes Vision Urbanetic, which was presented at CES two years ago. With various attachments, the autonomous vehicle is intended to serve as a passenger transporter, mobile office, hotel room or goods transporter.
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