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Hyundai Forms a New Urban Air Mobility Division, Hires Former NASA Engineer

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【Summary】South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Corp announced today it formed a new Urban Air Mobility Division to develop what the automaker calls “smart mobility products” within the aviation industry and Hyundai hired a renowned former NASA engineer to lead it.

Eric Walz    Sep 30, 2019 12:00 PM PT
Hyundai Forms a New Urban Air Mobility Division, Hires Former NASA Engineer

With ride-hailing giant Uber aiming to offer rides in electric verticle takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL) and Kitty Hawk, an aviation startup backed by Google co-founder Larry Page working on "flying cars," it makes sense that some automakers are exploring aviation for future mobility options.

South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Corp announced today it formed a new Urban Air Mobility Division to develop what the automaker calls "smart mobility products" within the aviation industry and Hyundai hired a renowned former NASA engineer to lead it.

Hyundai picked renowned aeronautics engineer Dr. Jaiwon Shin, who once worked for NASA and was Co-chair of the White House National Science & Technology Council's Aeronautics Science & Technology Subcommittee, to lead its new aviation arm.

"Having worked on cutting-edge aviation research and development at NASA for 30 years, I am very excited and humbled by the opportunity to now shape urban air mobility strategy at Hyundai Motor Group," said Dr. Shin in a statement about his new role.

"The new team at Hyundai will develop core technologies that will establish the company as a driving force in urban air mobility, a sector that is expected to grow into a market worth USD 1.5 trillion within the next 20 years." Dr Shin added.

Dr. Shin most recent role at NASA was leading the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate at NASA, where he helped shape the agency's aeronautics research and development strategy for over a decade.

Urban air travel using smaller electric aircraft is expected to become a viable mobility solution for easing traffic problems in cities around the world. Through its Urban Air Mobility Division, Hyundai plans to develop cutting-edge aviation technologies.

Hyundai said that Dr Shin's expertise in airframe, engine, aviation safety, and air traffic management technologies will allow Hyundai Motor Group to take a lead in the fast-growing urban air mobility sector. The new business unit will develop core technologies and innovative solutions for safe and efficient airborne travel.

Uber_eVTOL.jpeg

Uber plans to offer aerial ride-sharing by 2023.

Hyundai is following Uber and another California startup Joby Aviation in its effort to take to the skies. The company's Uber Elevate is working aircraft for aerial ridesharing. Uber plans to give riders the option of selected an affordable shared flight by as early as 2023. The Uber division is developing concepts for electric VTOL (eVTOL) aircraft that can land on the roof of a building.

In its effort to take to the air, Uber said its working closely with federal and local policymakers to develop an aerial offering that's safe and quiet, and Hyundui will likely face the same regulatory hurdles for any aircraft it develops.

Current FAA rules require that any aircraft flying over a crowded city must fly at an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft. In less congested areas, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vehicle or structure, such as a building.

Unless government regulations are worked out, it will be difficult for any eVTOL aviation startups to get off the ground, so to speak.

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