Aria Group flies Hyundai’s urban air mobility vision at CES

AMFeb20News - Aria
AMFeb20News - Aria

Hyundai Motor made big news at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), unveiling the Hyundai Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) as the centrepiece of their Urban Air Mobility display, a near-future vision for smart city transportation. Hyundai and ride-hailing tech giant Uber tapped specialty design-engineer-build firm Aria Group to bring the one-of-a-kind, carbon-fibre-intensive prototype aircraft from concept to reality.

“Our mission has always been to help companies create innovative solutions for moving people, and we’ve worked with both Hyundai and Uber on a variety of projects – including most recently producing Uber’s eVTOL scale mock ups and autonomous vehicle test fleet – so they knew this one was right in the sweet spot of our special skillset,” said Clive Hawkins, president of Aria Group. “Our clients provided us with a relatively simple list of requirements, and we were able to take charge of the entire programme from there, engineering and developing all the manufacturing, structural and control aspects necessary to install a working prototype at CES.”

The Hyundai aircraft is what’s known as an Electric Vertical Take-off and Landing vehicle or eVTOL, and Aria built it using all of the same manufacturing techniques that will be employed when a subsequent version of the vehicle is readied for flight. The project tapped into every one of Aria’s seven departments – including design, engineering, machining, composites, fabrication, electronics and paint – and many of its nearly 100 highly skilled team members.

In creating the Hyundai PAV, Aria not only built complex carbon fibre structures and tooling, they also developed the complete assembly and shipping strategy, the show stand concept and a complete electronic control system that cycles the aircraft through a complex demonstration of rotor movements and articulations to simulate the vehicle in flight.

Aria engineered and built the craft’s moving horizontal control surfaces, sequenced lift rotors, articulating vertical-to-horizontal thrust rotors and vehicle lighting. All systems were designed, specified and sourced, and a custom computer control system with remote operation capabilities was designed and built by Aria’s in-house electrical engineering team in record time.

All the necessary tooling to produce hundreds of unique carbon composite components was engineered and manufactured in house. Aria’s fabrication team then painstakingly assembled all the necessary components and mechanical systems to complete the 50ft-wide PAV prior to painting in the company’s world-class paint facility. Meanwhile, a dedicated program management team planned every step of a complex and intense operation to disassemble, crate and load the prototype into six semi-trucks. The trucks would then carry the PAV to Las Vegas, where the team would have less than three days to reassemble it at the centre of Hyundai’s CES display and prepare for the global debut.

“Executing complex projects and being able to take on the engineering for our clients is a huge aspect of what we do,” said James Desmond, Aria Group’s chief operating officer. “Our unique in-house capabilities mean little to no subcontracting or outsourcing, which results in greater efficiency. And we don’t sacrifice quality for speed. In this case, the Hyundai PAV prototype needed to be robust enough to embark upon a world tour of shows and events.”

Unlike the household names with whom they work – including most major auto manufacturers, multiple aerospace, defence contractors, and some of the biggest technology and entertainment brands in the world – Aria has remained in the shadows for much of its 24-year history.

But the group, which has worked on everything from scooters to autonomous vehicles to defence drones, is making an exception this time, choosing the launch of Hyundai’s Urban Air Mobility effort as the opportunity to step out of the shadows and launch a new business division offering high-tech series production of composite components, like the ones that will be necessary for the PAV and products like it to be manufactured en masse.

“Uber Elevate is leveraging its data and technology expertise and assembling all of the right people from aerospace and other industries, as well as federal, state and local government, to create the biggest innovation in transportation since cars took over from horses,” said Hawkins. “As an intellectual challenge – and a business opportunity – that is too good to pass up.”

Aria Composite Systems (ACS) will be a standalone division of Aria Group dedicated to the development and manufacture of composite structures and components primarily targeted at the eVTOL and autonomous vehicle industries. Aria will continue development of its proprietary carbon composite manufacturing processes to allow for higher volume manufacturing rates of complex parts and assemblies with reduced manufacturing Takt times and lower costs than those typically associated with flight-ready parts.

ACS will also invest in and develop existing technologies in both thermoset and thermoplastic carbon composite structures to meet the volume and price demands of these emerging industries. ACS manufacturing will be in the US at a location to be announced. Aria will also seek partners and investment to build an enterprise that leads the world in medium- to high-volume composite structure and component manufacture.



Aria Group

Related Articles

Shaping air travel’s future

Dr Neil Calder attended the inaugural Global Urban Air Summit, held last month at Farnborough International Exhibition and Conference Centre to learn about the global challenges facing urban air mobility and how it can shape the future of air travel.
3 years ago Features

Collaboration deal signed for urban air mobility

BAE Systems is collaborating with Jaunt Air Mobility to explore the development of electric energy management systems for urban air mobility vehicles through a memorandum of understanding (MOU).
3 years ago News
Most recent Articles

A scale-up on the Horizon

Horizon Aircraft has announced that the Company has improved the design of its prototype hybrid electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft and is now targeting the future production of a seven-seat capacity model
15 hours ago News

Login / Sign up