Uber has signed a partnership agreement with Hyundai Motor Company to develop flying taxis for a future aerial ride-share network.
The companies unveiled a new full-scale aircraft concept at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week. The vehicle was created partially through Uber’s open design process, a NASA-inspired approach in which the firm released existing concepts so any company can innovate on flying taxis and engineer technologies.
Hyundai is the first automotive company to join the Uber Elevate initiative. The South Korean firm will produce and deploy the vehicles, while Uber will provide air space support services, connections to ground transportation and customer interfaces through an aerial ride-share network. Both parties are also working on infrastructure concepts to support vehicle take-off and landing.
Uber announced last year that it would test its flying taxi concept in Dallas, Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia starting in 2020. The firm plans to open a network of “skyports” across target cities, which will act as access points for customers wishing to use the service.
The company is targeting 2023 for the launch of commercial flying taxi services.
Jaiwon Shin, executive vice president and head of Hyundai’s urban mobility division, commented: “Our vision of Urban Air Mobility will transform the concept of urban transportation. We expect UAM to vitalise urban communities and provide more quality time to people. We are confident that Uber Elevate is the right partner to make this innovative product readily available to as many customers as possible.”
Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate, added: “Hyundai is our first vehicle partner with experience of manufacturing passenger cars on a global scale. 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.”