Rolls-Royce and Hyundai Motor Group have announced plans today to collaborate on all-electric propulsion and hydrogen fuel cell technology in aviation. They have signed a letter of intent to deliver low-emission solutions to the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and Regional Air Mobility (RAM) markets.
The partnership will leverage Rolls-Royce’s aviation and certification capabilities and Hyundai’s hydrogen fuel cell technologies and industrialisation capability, say the partners. In concrete terms, they aim to deliver a joint fuel-cell electric aircraft demonstration by 2025. At the same time, the cooperation is to help them lead in delivering battery-electric and fuel cell electric solutions to the Urban Air Mobility (UAM, think eVTOL) and Regional Air Mobility (RAM, mid-range) markets.
The LoI also lists joint technology development and requirements of power and propulsion systems for Hyundai’s Advanced Air Mobility Division, collaborating on the industrialisation of Rolls-Royce’s existing propulsion systems and developing new electric propulsion systems based upon hydrogen fuel cells as an energy source for Hyundai’s RAM platforms. This joint fuel-cell electric propulsion system also targets the wider AAM market, so the partners.
“We are pleased to partner with Rolls-Royce to draw upon their aviation and certification expertise to accelerate the development of hydrogen fuel-cell propulsion systems,” said Jaiwon Shin, President of Hyundai Motor Group.
Rob Watson, President of Rolls-Royce Electrical, added, “The Advanced Air Mobility Market offers great commercial potential,” and pointed to each expertise.
Hyundai has, of course, delivered hydrogen fuel cell systems to the global automotive market and says it is now exploring the feasibility of electric and hydrogen propulsion technologies for aerospace integration.
In terms of battery-electric flying, Hyundai established the Supernal subsidiary last year. They just unveiled the first eVTOL Vehicle Cabin Concept. It is a prototype five-seater capable of vertical take-off and landing. Hyundai targets taking the air taxi into the US by 2028, followed by the UK and Europe shortly after.
The design embodies biomimicry philosophy, a butterfly in this case, and is looking at safety and certification from the start, so the company.
“The Supernal eVTOL vehicle draws on the competence of the Hyundai Motor Group and the skillset of experienced automotive designers, which allowed us to develop a new air mobility concept that is not only safe and rational but also highly emotional,” said Luc Donckerwolke, Chief Creative Officer of Hyundai Motor Group.
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