Hyundai to build air taxis for Uber's future aerial ride share network

Kirsten Korosec

Hyundai Motor is partnering with Uber to develop and potentially mass produce air taxis for a future aerial ride share network.

The partnership is the latest addition to Uber Elevate's growing network that includes Aurora Flight Sciences, which is now a subsidiary of Boeing, Bell, Embraer, Joby Aviation, Pipistrel Aircraft, Karem Aircraft and Jaunt Air Mobility. Uber has also entered into a real estate partnerships with Hillwood Properties, Related, Macquire, Oaktree and Signature

Uber Elevate has previously said it plans to start flight demonstrations in 2020 and have commercially available to riders in 2023.

Hyundai made the announcement Monday at a press conference ahead of CES 2020, the annual tech trade show in Las Vegas. The automaker also unveiled a four-seater aircraft concept called SA-1, which was created in part through Uber's open design process.

Under the partnership, Hyundai will 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, the companies said in a joint release.

"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."

Hyundai's model unveiled at CES is designed to cruise at speeds up to 180 miles per hour and at an altitude of 1,000 to 2,000 feet above ground, and a flying range of up to 60 miles. The concept vehicle will be all-electric, using distributed electric propulsion, powered by multiple rotors and propellers around the airframe.

Hyundai says the design, which uses smaller rotors, will be quieter than large rotor helicopters. The vehicle will require a human driver, or pilot, but the company claims it will become autonomous.