LAS VEGAS — Hyundai is flirting with the idea of taking to the skies with aerial vehicles.
At the CES electronics show here, Hyundai on Monday showed off a flying taxi concept, part of a partnership with Uber to develop an aerial ride-share network.
Hyundai's flying taxi concept can land and take off vertically. It is designed for a cruising speed up to 180 mph (290 kph). The vehicle has a cruising altitude of around 1,000 to 2,000 feet (300 to 600 meters) and a flight range of up to 60 miles (97 km).
The four-passenger model initially will be human piloted but eventually will be able to fly autonomously. The vehicle is propelled by multiple small rotors and propellers around the airframe.
Having several, smaller rotors also reduces noise relative to large-rotor helicopters with combustion engines.
Hyundai would produce and deploy the air vehicles, and Uber would operate the service.
Uber and Hyundai gave widely different timelines for commercialization of air taxis, underlining the challenges.
Euisun Chung, Hyundai Executive Vice Chairman, expects commercialization of urban air mobility service in 2028, saying it takes time for laws and systems to be in place.
Uber, which has partnered with eight companies on its air taxi project, said it would be "unrealistic" to expect all its partners to go to market at the same time.
"Our plans for our limited commercial operations in 2023 will likely involve other partners," said Sarah Abboud, Communications Manager at Uber.
Hyundai is the first automaker to join Uber's air taxi project, which also counts Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences among its partner firms.
Hyundai will produce and deploy the vehicles while Uber will provide aerial ride-share services.
"The overall cost to produce and operate UAM (urban air mobility) vehicles should be really low enough for everyone to enjoy the freedom to fly," said Shin Jai-won, head of Hyundai's urban air mobility division.