In the chaotic race bringing automotive companies into a technology space traditionally occupied by consumer giants like Apple and industrial powerhouses like Siemens, Hyundai Motor Company is, arguably, one of the best positioned to make sense of it all.
Few, if any, can match a reach of a company that may no longer share legal ties with the construction, retail and industrial firms that bear its name but still has a history of catering for all. It certainly retains an horizon-spanning vision – and the scale – to help create a world where it plays a central role in the mobility of billions of people.
At CES 2020, Hyundai Motor showcased three mobility solutions, comprising Urban Air Mobility (UAM), Purpose Built Vehicle (PBV) and Hub, which it says can free future cities and people from constraints of time and space and allow them to create more value in their lives.
The company is also accelerating the implementation of its brand vision ‘Progress for Humanity’ and transform itself into a ‘Smart Mobility Solution Provider’.
“Working closely together, UAM, PBV and Hub play key roles in vitalising human-centred future cities and enriching people’s lives.
“UAM connects the sky and the ground, while PBV links people to people on the road. These two smart mobility solutions connect at the Hub, which will be installed across future cities to form a mobility ecosystem.
“With this smart mobility vision built around the UAM-PBV-Hub network, Hyundai has outlined its commitment to provide customers seamless mobility and a differentiated mobility experience.”
Euisun Chung, executive vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Group said the vision is also in line with the company’s mid-term innovation plan ‘Strategy 2025’ to shift to its business structures based on two pillars – ‘Smart Mobility Device’ and ‘Smart Mobility Service’.
“For our smart mobility solutions, we considered what truly matters in cities and in people’s lives. UAM, PBV, and Hub will revitalise cities by removing urban boundaries, giving people time to pursue their goals, and creating a diverse community. Our goal is to help build dynamic human-centred future cities and continue our legacy of progress for humanity. CES 2020 is just the start and we will continue to realize this vision,” said Chung.
Hyundai’s future mobility vision stems from the idea that mobility is closely related to city infrastructure.
The company has established the Human-Centered City Advisory Group with top global experts from fields such as psychology, architecture, urban design, transportation, and political science, and conducted research on how future cities should be designed to “foster new human-centred” values.
The advisory group derived three key values for future cities: vitalise, enable, and care. Considering Hyundai’s strength in mobility and connecting people, the advisory group decided to place priority on the ‘vitalisation’ of cities.
“All three values are important, but Hyundai is exceptionally well-positioned to vitalise communities with new forms of mobility,” said Art Markman, a member of Hyundai’s Human-Centered City Advisory Group and professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.
In addition to the advisory group, Hyundai also envisioned different city archetypes and developed future city scenarios to predict the infrastructure and development direction that will be required for future cities.
The company focused on human-centred mobility solutions to address traffic congestion challenges in major cities.
“Based on advice from the advisory group, we tried to find mobility solutions that will vitalize communities in a meaningful and imaginative way. UAM, PBV, and Hub are solutions that will help alleviate pain-points in big cities like San Francisco,” said Youngcho Chi, chief innovation officer, Hyundai Motor Company.
The first solution that Hyundai is offering to “vitalise future cities” is Urban Air Mobility, a mobility solution that offers ‘liberation from grid-lock’ and ‘democratisation of flight’. In other words, it’s a flying taxi.
The company argues that mega-urbanisation taking place around the world has resulted in dramatic reduction of transfer efficiency for urban residents and increased social costs related to logistics transportation.
Its solution, the UAM, enables runway-free urban air travel with Personal Air Vehicles capable of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL).
UAM is considered a key future innovation business that can help overcome urban challenges like traffic congestion and transform the paradigm of mobility.
“We are looking at the dawn of a completely new era that will open the skies above our cities. Urban Air Mobility will liberate people from grid-lock and reclaim time for people to invest in activities they care about and enjoy,” said Jaiwon Shin, head of Urban Air Mobility Division, Hyundai Motor Company.
The concept PAV is equipped with eVTOL and designed to seat five people, including a pilot. The PAV will be operated initially by a pilot during the early stages of commercialization and enable autonomous operation once the relevant technologies are developed.
Hyundai says it has the manufacturing capacity and expertise required to develop and mass-produce transportation vehicles such as the PAV.
The ‘S-A1’ concept PAV was developed jointly with Uber, the world’s largest mobility company.
“Hyundai is our first vehicle partner with experience of manufacturing passenger cars on a global scale. We believe Hyundai has the potential to build Uber Air vehicles at rates unseen in the current aerospace industry, producing high quality, reliable aircraft at high volumes to drive down passenger costs per trip. Combining Hyundai’s manufacturing muscle with Uber’s technology platform represents a giant leap forward for launching a vibrant air taxi network in coming years,” said head of Uber Elevate Eric Allison.
Hyundai plans to strengthen its partnerships with global companies like Uber and accelerate its UAM business, including developing world-class PAVs, offering fleet service and maintenance, and developing skyports.
During CES, it was announced that Uber has agreed to a partnership to develop Uber Air Taxis for a future aerial ride share network based on Hyundai’s technology.
“Hyundai’s large-scale manufacturing capabilities offer a major step forward for Uber Elevate,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. “As Hyundai taps its automotive industry experience to mass produce air taxis, we will be able to more quickly take Uber’s platform into the skies, expanding affordable and seamless transportation in cities around the world.”
“Through the partnership with Uber, we will accelerate efforts to harness Hyundai’s businesses and technologies to deliver true freedom of mobility,” added Chung. “We will innovate tirelessly to redefine the boundaries of mobility and provide quality time to customers.”
For safety, the PAV has multiple rotors to provide multi-layer redundancy and ensure safe operation, and a parachute deployment system will be placed in the vehicle for emergencies.
PAVs will be designed with low noise levels, making them more acceptable for urban travel and offering comfort to passengers.
UAM will be made affordable and accessible through utilisation of Hyundai’s manufacturing know-how in automobiles, aerodynamic design, use of light-weight from carbon composite materials, productive design technology, and reduced operating costs.
Lastly, Hyundai’s UAM will be passenger-centred by designing the interior with Internet of Things (IoT) features while ensuring comfort and safety of passengers.
Hyundai also showcased its Purpose Built Vehicle (PBV) which it calls a new urban mobility solution that can accommodate a wide spectrum of future lifestyles with “limitless personalisation”.
The PBVs can function as a restaurant, coffee shop, and hotel, or even a clinic and pharmacy, in addition to being an urban shuttle. The PBV is inspired by San Francisco’s iconic cable car.
“The design comes alive and makes us feel connected to the way we get around through a progressive reinterpretation of its DNA and incorporation of the urban scenery,” said SangYup Lee, head of Hyundai Global Design.
The PBV is highly customisable with complete disassembly of upper- and under- bodies and adjustable size from 4-6m.
Its interior can be personalizsed to individual needs by assembling modular parts, taking the PBV beyond transportation into the realm of living space.
The fully-electric PBV is also an environmentally-friendly mobility solution. Its artificial intelligence (AI) feature allows the PBV to navigate along the best routes and charge in-transit with the help of the charger PBVs.
The PBV can also travel autonomously in platoon, which is expected to bring innovative changes to personal deliveries, as well support the wider logistics industry within future cities.
Hyundai also presented the Hub a community space that could connect its air-based UAMs and ground-based PBVs.
The Hub has a skyport for the PAV on the top and docking stations on the ground for the PBV to approach and depart from multiple directions.
The Hub can be transformed into an infinite number of new spaces depending on how PBVs are connected. For instance, the Hub can be turned into a cultural complex by bringing together PBVs functioning as concert halls, movie theatres, and museums.
It can also be transformed into a medical complex by connecting medical service PBVs in the form of clinics, doctor’s offices and pharmacies.
Hyundai plans to make smart mobility more accessible by placing Hubs throughout future cities and build a new mobility ecosystem around the UAM-PBV-Hub network.
“The company will overcome mobility limitations of time and space and create new spaces where people can gather and interact to help build and vitalize human-centred future cities,” it said.