Hyundai unveils new Uber air taxi design

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Hyundai and Uber team on the S-A1 at CES 2020

Hyundai has used the grand platform of CES 2020 to unveil its take on the future of urban mobility. At the heart of its plans is its S-A1, an electric flying taxi developed with Uber. A concept at this stage, the S-A1 is a four-passenger electric aircraft designed for short urban journeys made possible by helicopter-style vertical take-off and landing.

In the S-A1, Hyundai has become the first partner of Uber Elevate, Uber’s grand plan for transforming urban transportation by taking its ride-sharing business model to the sky. Hyundai’s S-A1 design builds on the design concepts established and shared by Uber Elevate in an attempt to help manufacturers stake a claim in the embryonic air taxi market. The S-A1 also constitutes the first fruit of Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) division. (Though confusingly, Hyundai also refers to its air taxis as UAM.)

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Uber begins talks with Indian government to push for flying taxis

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Ride-hailing firm Uber has begun talks with the government to usher in a regulatory framework for flying taxis in the country, a top company executive told ET.

Uber has begun talks with the Indian government to push for flying taxis. Ride-hailing firm Uber has begun talks with the government to usher in a regulatory framework for flying taxis in the country.

Over the last one year, the San Francisco-based company has held conversations with regulators in India and met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said Nikhil Goel, head of product, aviation at Uber, in an interaction with ET on the sidelines of an Uber Elevate event here.

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Japan is getting serious about flying cars

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The country’s once-envied government skunk works has set its sights on speeding up the arrival of aerial taxis and trucks.

Japan often appears stuck in yesterday’s vision of tomorrow. Flip phones are common enough that they’re cited as the exemplar of a phenomenon called Galapagos Syndrome, referring to the country’s tendency to stick with technologies endemic only to its islands. Another anachronism, Yahoo, remains wildly popular. Tokyo of the 1980s may have inspired the futuristic cityscape of Blade Runner, complete with flying cars, but the fax machines that were cutting-edge when the film came out remain ubiquitous tools today.

Ensuring Japan doesn’t fall behind the technological curve has for decades been the job of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, a powerful agency housed in a squat modern office block in Tokyo’s orderly government quarter, a few blocks south of the jagged moat surrounding the Imperial Palace. The building is orthogonal in every respect, a uniform stack of concrete threaded with long, featureless corridors. The bureaucrats here guided Japan’s postwar economic miracle, a boom that gave the world the transistor radio, the Walkman, and the Prius—and almost no transformative innovations since. None of the automakers championed by METI are today on the leading edge of robotic driving. For the most part, Japan’s faded tech companies can’t lay claim to either smartphone or internet greatness.

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