Hyundai’s vision of air-mobility moves a step closer to reality

23 September 2020

23 September 2020 Hyundai has taken its development of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) one step further, announcing a new partnership that will accelerate the programme and begin conducting test flights. The carmaker is collaborating with Incheon International Airport (IIAC), Hyundai Engineering and Construction and KT Corp. The companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and will look to commercialise UAM by 2028. This timeframe follows a roadmap announced by the Korean government, including the UAM Grand Challenge, a public-private demonstration project that provides the basis for jointly studying the construction and operation of ′vertiports’ – airports for UAMs. Hyundai first announced its plans to move into mobility services beyond the road at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, in a partnership with Uber Elevate. The carmaker sees air travel as a way of securing a legacy in the mobility market of the future, giving people the option of moving away from congested roads and enjoying a less stressful commute. As the battle for traditional mobility-service custom intensifies due to changing vehicle ownership patterns – not taking the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) into account – development of new modes of transport can provide additional revenue streams for carmakers. Toyota too, is looking at air-transportation-based mobility services. Different models The carmaker will push forward, developing the UAM business and securing business cases while IIAC will work to establish the infrastructure and study feasibility of utilising UAM as airport shuttles. Hyundai Construction will use its expertise to build vertiports as well as the transit hub that will connect UAM to other public transport. KT will set up the communications infrastructure and make business cases for UAM as a mobility service. All four parties will be sharing necessary information during the development, as well as jointly working on test flights. ′The breadth and depth of this partnership shows what it will take to build a comprehensive UAM ecosystem to serve megacities like Seoul,’ commented Jaiwon Shin, executive vice president and head of Urban Air Mobility Division at Hyundai Motor. ′Building a robust infrastructure and business model is just as important as developing innovative UAM vehicles. This partnership demonstrates Hyundai’s commitment to facilitating progress for humanity by ushering in a new era of urban air mobility that will revolutionise transport. Urban planning As the world’s population grows, so too does urbanisation, with much talk around ′smart cities’, which utilise autonomous driving among other new technologies to ferry commuters and consumers from place to place. However, UAM allows a different spin on the subject of urban mobility. Hyundai’s concept vehicle, eVOTL, uses electricity as a fuel source and can transport people shorter distances without adding to the likely congestion caused by a build-up of cars. The carmaker is keen to play a part in the development of sustainable smart cities, launching ′for Tomorrow’ – a crowdsourcing, open-innovation platform where people can submit and develop solutions for this year’s theme: sustainable cities and communities, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Under the agreement, Hyundai and UNDP will collaborate for the first time to create a global initiative that will help accelerate progress towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The United Nations adopted the SDGs in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. The agreement will enable Hyundai Motor and UNDP to crowdsource innovations from the public and help implement these solutions, a much-needed response to the world’s escalating environmental and socioeconomic challenges. ′The for Tomorrow project we are launching today with UNDP aims to offer concrete solutions to many of our problems today,’ said Hyundai Motor Group executive vice-chairman Euisun Chung. ′Through this project, Hyundai Motor Company will help mobilise the power of cooperation and innovation to engineer sustainable progress for humanity.’ Hyundai Motor and UNDP will support solutions shared on the platform by advancing, sharing and building upon them with the help of the UNDP Accelerator Labs. This is a global network of 60 labs that are tapping into local innovations to create actionable insights and reimagine sustainable development for the 21st century to address global challenges like climate change and socioeconomic inequality.