Ascension Global’s Pamela Cohn appointed as Vice President Global Strategy and Operations of Hyundai’s new Urban Air Mobiliry Division

Just some days after Hyundai and Uber unveiled at CES Las Vegas 2020 a new deal to develop Uber air taxis for a future aerial ride share network, the first automotive manufacturer partnering with Uber Elevate, today the South Korean automotive multinational announces the appointment of Pamela Cohn as Vice President to lead the Group’s Global Strategy and Operations at its Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Division.

Cohn brings with her a team of UAM experts from Ascension Global with extensive experience serving a range of clients across the industry on their toughest strategy, technology and policy challenges.

Through the UAM Division, Hyundai Motor Group aims to provide innovative and smart mobility solutions as UAM industry is about to become an important proponent for an integrated mobility solution to address the ever-increasing traffic congestion in megacities around the world.

Uber Elevate first commercial air transport ride sharing service is expected to start off commercial operations by 2023 thanks to the collaboration agreement signed with Hyundai, but also grounded on other several key partnerships explained below.

The founder of aviation consultancy Ascension Global

Most recently, Pamela Cohn founded the aviation consultancy Ascension Global, where she served decision-makers and leaders in industry on their top strategy and technology challenges. Her expertise in UAM, infrastructure and policy will help the Group achieve a lead in the rapidly evolving UAM sector.

Pamela Cohn (Vice President of Golbal Strategy and Operations at Hyundai Urban Air Mobility Division). © Hyundai Motor Group.

Prior to founding Ascension Global, Cohn founded McKinsey’s UAS Hub and was a leader in its Aerospace & Defense and Infrastructure practice groups.

Cohn received her master’s degree in war studies from King’s College London and her bachelor’s degree in economics and politics from Durham University.

“We are fortunate to have Pamela join our leadership team,” said Dr. Jaiwon Shin, Executive Vice President and Head of UAM Division of the Group. “With her strong reputation in the industry, firsthand knowledge of operational, strategic and policy opportunities in the UAM space, and track record of delivering results in traditional and future aviation, we are excited for her to scale our global footprint.”

“I’m thrilled and humbled by the opportunity to help bring UAM to life,” said Cohn. “I believe Hyundai Motor Group is uniquely positioned to advance this sector and put citizens and communities at the heart of its ecosystem,” added Cohn. “It has been a distinct privilege to counsel the leaders in this industry on behalf of Ascension, and we are looking forward to putting guidance into action at Hyundai.”

Human-centered mobility vision of a transition into becoming a smart mobility solution provider

As well as the partnership with Uber Elevate and the first air taxi prototipe , Hyundai Group’s flagship unit Hyundai Motor Company presentedat CES 2020 its human-centered mobility vision of offering seamless mobility to vitalize future cities with a integrated concept of UAM along with Purpose Built Vehicles (PBV) and Hub.

Euisun Chung, Executive Vice Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group unveiled Hyundai’s human-centered urban mobility vision at CES 2020. © Hyundai Motor Group.

“For our smart mobility solutions, we considered what truly matters in cities and in people’s lives. UAM, PBV, and Hub will revitalize cities by removing urban boundaries, giving people time to pursue their goals, and creating a diverse community. Our goal is to help build dynamic human-centered future cities and continue our legacy of progress for humanity. CES 2020 is just the start and we will continue to realize this vision,” said Euisun Chung, Executive Vice Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group.

Hyundai Motor has announced their aim to accelerate transition into Smart Mobility Solution Provider with three innovative mobility solutions:

1.- Urban Air Mobility (UAM):  This is a new form of mobility utilizing air space to drastically reduce transit time. Hyundai announced at CES 2020 its UAM concept grounded on four main principles: Safe, quiet, affordable and passenger-centered. The South Korean company also unveiled a PAV (personal air vehicle) concept developed hand in hand with Uber Elevate.

2.- Purpose Built Vehicle (PBV): The PBV will provide eco-friendly urban mobility allowing personalization to cater to diverse lifestyles and providing various functions and services in transit, such as restaurant and clinic. The PBV to will utilize AI to find optimal route and travel in platoon.

3.- Hub: The Hub will be a new mobility space connecting air-based UAM and ground-based PBV. It will connect people to people and create new innovative communities. The Hub to transform into infinite new spaces depending on how PBV is connected.

“UAM, PBV, and Hub will revitalize cities by removing urban boundaries, giving people time to pursue their goals, and creating a diverse community,” Euisun Chung, Executive Vice Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai has established a Human-Centered City Advisory Group to study new values for future cities. with top global experts from fields such as psychology, architecture, urban design, transportation, and political science, and conducted research on how future cities should be designed to foster new human-centered values. The advisory group derived three key values for future cities: vitalize, enable, and care. Considering Hyundai’s strength in mobility and connecting people, the advisory group decided to place priority on the ‘vitalization’ of cities.

Hyundai future-mobility concept vision unveiled at CES Las Vegas 2020. © Hyundai Motor Group.

“All three values are important, but Hyundai is exceptionally well-positioned to vitalize communities with new forms of mobility,” said Art Markman, a member of Hyundai’s Human-Centered City Advisory Group and professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

In addition to the advisory group, Hyundai also envisioned different city archetypes and developed future city scenarios to predict the infrastructure and development direction that will be required for future cities. The company focused on human-centered mobility solutions to address traffic congestion challenges in major cities.

“Based on advice from the advisory group, we tried to find mobility solutions that will vitalize communities in a meaningful and imaginative way. UAM, PBV, and Hub are solutions that will help alleviate pain-points in big cities like San Francisco,” said Youngcho Chi, President and Chief Innovation Officer at Hyundai Motor Company.

Hyundai smart mobility solucion unveiled at CES Las Vegas. © Hyundai Motor Group.

“Our vision of Urban Air Mobility will transform the concept of urban transportation,” said Jaiwon Shin, Executive Vice President and Head of Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Division.

“We expect UAM to vitalize urban communities and provide more quality time to people. We are confident that Uber Elevate is the right partner to make this innovative product readily available to as many customers as possible.”

The South Korean car manufacturer showcased PAV, PBV and Hub at CES 2020, alongside VR experience for PAV. They also displayed a concept personal air vehicle (PAV) model, the S-A1 that was built in collaboration with Uber Elevate, as Uber and Hyundai agreed to work together in aerial ridesharing service.

First Uber commercial ride service by 2023, thanks to several key partnerships

Uber Elevate, the air ride sharing service is expected to unveil firts flight demonstrations in 2020 and to be commercially available to riders in 2023.

In order to achieve these goals Uber entered into partnerships with several highly experienced manufacturers including: Hyundai Motor Group, Aurora Flight Sciences (now a subsidiary of Boeing), Bell, Embraer, Joby Aviation, Pipistrel Aircraft, Karem Aircraft and Jaunt Air Mobility.

From left to right: Euisun Chung, Executive Vice Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group and Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber show the agreement between Hyundai and Uber Elevate before their first air taxi prototype, the S-A1 model prototype. © Hyundai Motor Group.

Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber CEO underscored: “Hyundai’s large scale manufacturing capabilities offer a major step forward for Uber Elevate. As Hyundai taps its automotive industry experience to mass produce air taxis, we will be able to more quickly take Uber’s platform into the skies, expanding affordable and seamless transportation in cities around the world.”

“Hyundai is our first vehicle partner with experience of manufacturing passenger cars on a global scale. We believe Hyundai has the potential to build Uber Air vehicles at rates unseen in the current aerospace industry, producing high quality, reliable aircraft at high volumes to drive down passenger costs per trip. Combining Hyundai’s manufacturing muscle with Uber’s technology platform represents a giant leap forward for launching a vibrant air taxi network in the coming years,” said Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate.


From left to right: Jae Hyung Kim, Head of Hyundai Future Mobility System Research Team; SangYup Lee, Senior Vice President and Head of Hyundai Global Design; Jaiwon Shin, Executive Vice President and Head of Urban Air Mobility Division at Hyundai Motor Company; Youngcho Chi, President and Chief Innovation Officer At Hyundai Motor Company; Euisun Chung, Executive Vice Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group; Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber; Eric Allison, Head of Uber Elevate; Nikhil Goel, Head of Product, Uber Elevate; Wyatt Smith, Head of Business, Uber Elevate; Jun Shin, Senior Manager of Business Development, Uber Elevate. All of them at CES 2020. © Hyundai Motor Group.

Under this partnership, Hyundai will produce and deploy the air vehicles, and Uber will provide airspace support services, connections to ground transportation, and customer interfaces through an aerial ride share network. Both parties are collaborating on infrastructure concepts to support take-off and landing for this new class of vehicles.

Euisun Chung, Executive Vice Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group said about the partnership with Uber Elevate: “Through the partnership with Uber, we will accelerate efforts to harness Hyundai’s businesses and technologies to deliver true freedom of mobility,” said Euisun Chung, Executive Vice Chairman of Hyundai Motor Group. “We will innovate tirelessly to redefine the boundaries of mobility and provide quality time to customers.”

Uber has also entered into a real estate partnerships with Hillwood Properties, Related, Macquire, Oaktree and Signature.

The ride sharing provider has signed as well two Space Act Agreements with NASA one for the development of new Unmanned Traffic Management concepts and Unmanned Aerial Systems and another to explore concepts and technologies for Urban Air Mobility.

Uber’s analysis projects that an electric vehicle will travel at a speed up to 200mph and that eventually, after several years in a market, an Uber Elevate ride will cost the same as an UberX trip of the same distance.

Hyundai-Uber Elevate PAV S-A1 model unveiled at CES

In preparation for this announcement, Hyundai has worked with Uber Elevate to develop a PAV (Personal Air Vehicle) model, S-A1, that utilizes innovative design processes to optimize electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for aerial ridesharing purposes. The Elevate initiative based this process on NASA’s historical approach of putting design concepts out publicly to inspire innovation amongst multiple companies, spurring the development of common research models to investigate novel aerodynamic concepts and catalyzing industry progress in wing design, noise, aerodynamics, and simulation verification.

Hyundai-Uber Elevate PAV S-A1 model, unveiled at CES 2020. © Hyundai Motor Group.

As a result, Hyundai’s S-A1 model unveiled at CES reflects previous eVTOL designs Uber Elevate has released in the following ways:

a) It is designed for a cruising speed up to 180 miles/hr (290 km/hr), a cruising altitude of around 1,000-2,000 feet (300 – 600 mt) above ground, and to fly trips up to 60 mile (100 km).

b) The Hyundai vehicle will be 100% electric, utilizing distributed electric propulsion and during peak hours will require about five to seven minutes for recharging.

c) Hyundai’s electric aircraft utilizes distributed electric propulsion, powering multiple rotors and propellers around the airframe to increase safety by decreasing any single point of failure. Having several, smaller rotors also reduces noise relative to large rotor helicopters with combustion engines, which is very important to cities.

d) The model is designed to take off vertically, transition to wing-borne lift in cruise, and then transition back to vertical flight to land.

e) The Hyundai vehicle will be piloted initially, but over time they will become autonomous.

f) The cabin is designed with four passenger seats, allowing riders to board / disembark easily and avoid the dreaded middle seat with enough space for a personal bag or backpack / rider.

Image over the headline.- Left: Pamela Cohn (Vice President of Golbal Strategy and Operations at Hyundai Urban Air Mobility Division). Right: First Hyundai-Uber Elevate air taxi prototype . Both images © Hyundai Motor Group.

Related Eastwind links (English edition):

CES 2016.- First ever passenger solar drone launched by EHang

Nissan and Foster +Partners unveil the zero emissions city of the future

Related Eastwind links (Spanish edition):

Audi, Italdesign y Airbus prueban el primer taxi eléctrico que se conduce y vuela solo
(Audi, Italdesign and Airbus test the first electric self driving and flying taxi)

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