Hyundai launches air mobility division, names former NASA expert as chief

Hyundai may one day build a flying taxi of sorts.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2020 Hyundai Venue
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2020 Hyundai Venue

This badge... on a flying taxi? Maybe one day.

Chris Paukert/Roadshow

Where going, it doesn't need roads. On Sunday, the South Korean automaker announced the creation of its air mobility division that has its sights set on flying taxis of the future. Leading the new unit is none other than a former NASA aeronautics engineer, Dr. Jaiwon Shin.

"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 $1.5 trillion within the next 20 years," Shin said of his appointment over the new mobility unit.

Increasingly, companies are looking past roads and into the sky to alleviate traffic problems in major cities. From Uber to Google founder's Kitty Hawk, companies believe the future isn't just for autonomous cars, but for quick traveling air taxis that dart across the sky. For Hyundai, Shin is perhaps the most ideal candidate of all.

He oversaw a multimillion-dollar budget that researched urban air mobility, aircraft electrification, airspace traffic management and more. The latter part is crucial. Right now, there are no regulations in place that would allow low-flying aircraft to zip across cities without interfering with today's airspace. Translation: There's a lot of red tape in the way of innovation.

Nevertheless, companies are keen to revolutionize city travel. Not only may a self-driving ride-share vehicle be at your disposal, but maybe you'll want to jump in an autonomous air taxi to get somewhere even quicker in the future.

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