There’s an exciting new frontier for the automotive industry to boldly go, and Hyundai Motor Group is pressing on at the forefront of industry to help make waves in an entirely different realm of what were previously believed to be unlikely possibilities.
Hyundai has been working with a company called Urban Air Port to create the foundation for “future vehicles” known as electrical vertical takeoff and landing machines (eVTOLs), and the United Kingdom government is on board with the implementation.
Prepped for some pretty massive change, the auto industry is flirting with the idea of zero-emission vehicles and many of them also want to install eVTOLs —which some folks are referring to by the nickname, “flying cars.”
While the idea feels very space-age-y and like an episode of The Jetsons, the machines themselves are closer to electric helicopters not cars that will be driven on roads and be able to fly. However, that hasn’t stopped Hyundai from blasting full-steam punk ahead. On Thursday, January 28, the United Kingdom stepped in to help this capsule dream become a reality. Through the main leg of the ambitious project, referred to as, “Air-One,” Urban Air Port–a company primarily-focused on the creation of future eVTOL–hopes to bring “the industry, government and the public together” to cut down on overcrowded travel, air pollution and carbon transport while making passenger journeys much easier and affordable.
Pamela Cohn, the newly christened Chief Operating Officer for Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai said about the partnership, “As we advance our eVTOL aircraft program development of supporting infrastructure is imperative. Air-One is a unique project that is set to help lead the way in developing a robust, accessible, and inter-modal infrastructure network for future mobility…”
Per Hyundai, the UK government selected Urban Air Port as their Future Flight Challenge winner. Urban Air Port already receives backing from Hyundai, but now it will receive the benefit of the $1.6 million grant from the UK government through the Future Flight Challenge.
The automaker’s work with Urban Air Port comes as Hyundai plans for its eVTOL to take to the skies by 2028. Yet, Hyundai worries that a lack of support for the futuristic flying contraptions remains a massive barrier to their adoption beyond these initial stages. So, they decided to invest in an infrastructure-centric company with plans on launching 200 hub sites worldwide by 2026.
If all goes according to plan, the eVTOL sites promise seamless connections for electric cars, buses, and other mobility forms like scooters. Because they are lightweight, they could potentially be used to taxi passengers between rooftops and skyscrapers or even from landing zones built on platforms atop the surface of bodies of water–such as the one Urban Air Port designed on the River Thames in London. Hyundai also believes these ports won’t just act as a solution to congested travel, but will open up economic opportunities for cargo carriers as well. Additionally, the company imagines first responders could take advantage of them because—unlike a fixed helipad—Urban Air Port’s creation is mobile and capable of packing up and moving somewhere else to receive teams in emergency aid. The ports also function off-the-grid and produce zero emissions, according to Hyundai.
These machines likely come as close as we’ll get to “flying cars,” but whether we see the sector flourish or come to life as quickly as many think it will remains a big question mark.