In recent years, CES has been filled with prototype of automatic cars and such. But recent announcement from Hyundai is not about cars that run on wheels, but a concept of flying air-taxis (EVTOL’s) in collaboration with Uber.
What are EVTOL’s ?
EVTOL’s or Electric Vertical Take-off or Landing Vehicles are much more like helicopters. But instead of liquid propulsion, they run off electric motors, which gives them some unique advantages that enables them to be used for “air-taxis”. Unlike motors are helicopters which rely on a single motor, EVTOL’s run on an average of 4 motors which makes them more redundant and reliable in case of an engine failure. It also makes them much more easier to fly. Most EVTOL’s are expected to fly on their own or require limited input from pilots end.
Electric motors makes them much quieter than conventional helicopters. Noise is an important factor in urban transportation.
Combining improvements in drone and battery technologies, EVTOL’s are expected to have a much wider roll-out starting from 2023.
Hyundai and Uber Collaboration:
Hyundai announced its air-taxi concept in CES 2020 in collaboration with Uber. The five seater model is capable of taking off vertically from helipads on top of high rise buildings. The aircraft is expected to have a cruising speed of 250 kmph flying at an altitude of 1000-2000 feet. The aircraft is expected to have a mileage of about 100 kms on a single charge.
Uber claims with its rapid charge technology, this craft would be capable of charging from zero to hundred percent in less than 10 minutes. Hyundai with its expertise on mass production would manufacture the electric vehicle and Uber would provide airspace support network, ground transportation and infrastructure for vertical take off and landing through its Elevate initiative.
The project prototype is expected to fly this year along with mass roll out on cities from 2023.
EVTOL’s concept has been an interesting one, but profitability has been a major consideration. Several startups have been working on the concept in recent years with big guns like Airbus and Boeing producing prototypes. It’s interesting to see Hyundai joining the contest, with its expertise on large scale manufacturing it would sure be interesting to see cost of technology coming down and we can soon expect a large scale roll out of such tech.