Hyundai Doubles Down on Drone Taxis, Launches New Company Focused Only on Advanced Air Mobility
BY Zacc Dukowitz18 November 2021
Hyundai just launched a new company called Supernal that will be focused only on drone taxis.
The company started as an internal project at Hyundai called the Urban Air Mobility Division, which has now moved past the testing phase and is ready to stand on its own.
Supernal will be based in the U.S. The company has ambitious goals—it’s already shared plans to begin the certification process for its S-A1 electric taxi drone by 2024, and to conduct its first commercial flight by 2028.
Supernal’s Vision for Advanced Air Mobility
Right now Supernal’s first drone taxi is still in development, but the concept was unveiled last year at CES 2020.
The S-A1 will be an eVTOL vehicle, meaning it will take off and land vertically (the e stands for electric, since it will be powered by electricity). But this will just be the first vehicle Supernal plans to create—according to a press release, the S-A1 will be one of a family of vehicles.
Image credit: Supernal
Supernal will also be working on the infrastructure and regulatory aspects of integrating Advanced Air Mobility (AAM)—an industry phrase used for drone taxi operations—into the airspace of nations around the world.
As part of this work, Hyundai launched a partnership with the City of Los Angeles and the Urban Movement Labs last year. Through the partnership, they created a public engagement roadmap and a policy toolkit that other cities can use to help them figure out how to incorporate taxi drones into their transportation logistics.
Supernal will continue these efforts to guide policy and planning for the future reality of AAM, building not just the drone taxi itself but also the entire system in which it will operate. Hyundai’s ultimate vision is that passengers will one day be able to use one app to plan all of their transportation, whether it includes a train, a self-driving car, an autonomous drone taxi, an e-scooter, or all of the above.
As part of the AAM effort, Hyundai has also invested in the development of vertiports (airports made only for drone taxis).
This work is being done in partnership with Urban Air Port, a company devoted to the creation of airports for taxi drones. And they’re making progress—two months ago, Hyundai announced plans to build 65 vertiports in 65 different locations around the world.
How Supernal Fits Into Hyundai’s Larger Transportation Plans
Supernal is just one of a whopping 50 companies in the Hyundai Motor Group’s network.
Image credit: Supernal
All of these companies are part of Hyundai’s transition from being a car company to being what it calls a Smart Mobility Solution Provider. The phrase is meant to encompass not just a variety of types of vehicles, but also a shift in focus toward making “mobility a service, not just a product.”
The shift means a change in emphasis toward providing people with the transportation they need, regardless of its means, instead of just providing the vehicles that do the transportation.
We are on a mission to transform how people and society move, connect, and live. We have bold ambitions at Supernal but being first to market is not one of them. We are working to build the right product and the right integrated market, and we will leverage Hyundai Motor Group’s scaled manufacturing expertise to ensure AAM reaches the right price point and is accessible to the masses.
– Jaiwon Shin, CEO of Supernal
Hyundai’s sights aren’t set just on moving people, but also on moving goods.
One of the cooler things Hyundai is working on as part of this ambitious transition is a fleet of next generation hydrogen-powered vehicles, which will be modular, autonomous, and incredibly versatile.
The fleet will include the Rescue Drone, a ground-based vehicle made to carry a drone for emergency rescue missions—watch this video learn more about the project: