Hyundai Promises Flying Cars For Uber By 2023

Ah, flying cars! Exciting in theory, mildly terrifying for anyone who has witnessed humanity road-rage its way through a rush hour. As The Verge tells us, the latest development on the airborne commute front came on January 6, 2020, when Hyundai announced they were teaming up with Uber to create an "air taxi service," which could be operational as early as 2023. 

To be fair, the news didn't exactly come out of the blue, as Hyundai had already "teased" the news in late 2019. What's more, Uber has been flirting with taking their services to the skies since 2016, and the company has even stated that it wants to start test flights for this "Uber Elevate" project in 2020. With Hyundai's prototype flying Uber, which can carry five people and has a cruising speed of 180 mph, it certainly looks like the project might stand a chance of getting off the ground. 

The challenges of hailing a flying Uber

As cool as Back to The Future 2-style flying DeLoreans may seem on paper, there are several challenges to actually making one work. As Wired notes, it's kind of possible to create a reliable-ish automated flying system that can control the eight to ten rotors your average drone-style flying car would require (the Hyundai one has ten, plus two "tilt-rotors" on the tail). However, things get really hard when you're required to make the system so intuitive and simple that minimally-trained pilots of the Uber driver variety can operate it without ending their shifts as holes in the ground. What's more, the vehicle should also be cheap enough to mass-produce, and electric to make sure it's quiet enough to not drive everyone nuts with their noise (see: helicopters). 

So, can Hyundai deliver? At this point, we don't know. Reportedly, the company has not conducted any test flights or produced any cost estimates, so as far as we know, all of the above is still very much in the air — definitely more so than the vehicle itself. It's also worth noting that even if Hyundai can fly over all the obstacles and their plan comes to fruition, their vision of the Uber taxi system seems slightly more complex than the simple "hail a flying taxi from anywhere to anywhere" solution you might be hoping for. The Hyundai flying car can reportedly only cover 60 miles before it needs a recharge, and is supposed to land on special "skyports", from which the riders must switch to a separate, electric car-style "purpose built vehicle" that takes them to their destination. That... seems like a lot of steps for getting from point A to point B.