- Hyundai’s S-A1 electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft concept was my favourite non-car vehicle at this year’s edition of the consumer technology expo CES.
- The vehicle is expected to be used in Uber’s forthcoming flying taxi service, which is set to begin commercial operation in 2023.
- The S-A1 seats four passengers and will have a range of 60 miles, a maximum speed of 180 mph, and the ability to fly up to around 2,000 feet above the ground, Hyundai says.
- With multiple rotors, the S-A1 will be quieter and safer than a helicopter, according to Hyundai.
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Many of the non-car vehicles at this year’s edition of the Consumer Electronics Show were either scooters or autonomous-shuttle concepts. Both appear poised to take on a larger role in urban transportation in the coming years, but they feel more incremental than transformative.
While electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, which resemble helicopters with more than one rotor, are not new to CES, their upside is higher. Making short-distance air travel safe, practical, and accessible will be an enormous challenge, but one that has the potential to cut travel times while reducing congestion on roads.
This year, Hyundai unveiled its S-A1 eVTOL aircraft concept, saying it will be used in Uber’s forthcoming flying taxi service. (Uber says the service will begin commercial operation in 2023.)
The S-A1 seats four passengers and will have a range of 60 miles, a maximum speed of 180 mph, and the ability to fly up to around 2,000 feet above the ground, Hyundai says. It will also need only five to seven minutes to recharge, and will eventually be able to fly autonomously. With multiple rotors, the S-A1 will be quieter and safer than a helicopter, according to Hyundai.
There are a large number of logistical, safety, and regulatory hurdles that must be cleared before flying taxis become a reality, but in a year lacking in big, new ideas in non-automotive transportation, a fresh take on the flying taxi was the most exciting.
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