The days of flying taxis are almost upon us. This year’s CES revealed Hyundai’s “flying car” concept. The show saw a full-scale prototype. We’ve now learned that not only does the South Korean automaker plan on mass producing the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVOTL) aircraft, it’s also partnering with Uber to create a network of air taxis.
Uber announced its “Uber Elevate” project back in 2016. The white paper for the project labeled 2020 as the year when test flights would start to happen, with 2023 being the deadline to see some version of an air taxi service hitting select markets, like Dallas, Texas, and Los Angeles, California. With Hyundai’s announcement, it appears that things are right on schedule. The Hyundai Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) has two tilt-rotors on the tail and 10 other rotors that are spread out around the egg-shaped cabin. The PAV takes off vertically and then transitions into a wing-borne lift. When it’s time to land, it transitions back to the original position.
Capable of carrying five people, the PAV will have a cruising speed of 180 miles per hour at an altitude of 1,000 to 2,000 feet above ground. Getting to and from the landing zone of the PAV will be done via a “Purpose Built Vehicle” that is designed specifically for ground transport. These PBVs will make use of AI to find optimal routes and will travel in groups.
Hyundai’s PAV is also fully electric, which means that it will be significantly more quiet than a combustion engine helicopter, cutting down on noise pollution. Being electric, the PAV will use batteries, but Hyundai claims that it will only require about five to seven minutes for recharging and will have a range of 60 miles.
It’s an exciting announcement, but Hyundai and Uber still have plenty of hurdles to jump through. Not only will they have to get performance to where it needs to be, there are plenty of regulatory concerns to address as well. Still, this announcement shows progress, and if Uber stays on schedule, we’ll soon be flying through our commutes.