May 17, 2020

Uber and Hyundai: the future of air taxis

Electric vehicles
UAVs
Georgia Wilson
2 min
With 2020 fully underway, the new decade is proving to continue 2019’s roaring innovation. The latest concept Uber Air Taxis
With 2020 fully underway, the new decade is proving to continue 2019’s roaring innovation. The latest concept Uber Air Taxis!

This week, Hyundai beca...

With 2020 fully underway, the new decade is proving to continue 2019’s roaring innovation. The latest concept Uber Air Taxis!

This week, Hyundai became the first automotive company to join the Uber Elevate Initiative. Via Uber’s open design process, Hyundai has released its air vehicle concept. Inspired by NASA’s approach the recently released design concept is accessible to any company in order to jump-start innovation within the industry. 

“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,” says Eric Allison, Head of Uber Elevate.

What is included within the partnership?

As part of the partnership, Hyundai will produce and deploy air vehicles, while Uber will provide airspace support services, ground transportation connections and a customer interface. In addition to these separate roles, Hyundai and Uber will jointly work on infrastructure concepts to support take-off and landing for the new style of vehicles.

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

Currently, Uber and Hyundai have developed a Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) model, S-A1. The model utilises innovative design processes to optimise electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL).

Its main features include:

  • A cruising speed of up to 180 miles/hr (290 km/hr)

  • A cruising altitude of roughly 1,000-2,000 feet (300 - 600 mt) above ground

  • Fly trips up to 60 mile (100 km)

  • 100% electric, utilising distributed electric propulsion

  • Designed for four passengers

(Image: Hyundai) 

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Jun 14, 2021

Amazon tests new technology to improve employee safety

Technology
Amazon
robots
Innovation
3 min
Amazon is testing new technologies in an effort to make handling packages safer for employees

At the Amazon Robotics and Advanced Technology labs in Boston, and Northern Italy, team members are testing and developing new technologies in order to help to make employees’ jobs safer, these include technologies that help move carts and packages through Amazon facilities.

Recently the safety of Amazon's warehouses has drawn scrutiny. On June 1, the Washington Post's Jay Greene and Chris Alcantara published findings from an analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration data showing Amazon's serious injury rates are nearly double those at other companies' facilities.

A spokesperson from Amazon said the company spent more than $1 billion last year on safety measures, and hired more than 6,200 employees to a group dedicated to workplace health and safety.

Motion-capture technology

One innovation being tested by Amazon, which is in early development, is the use of motion-capture technology to assess the movement of volunteer employees in a lab setting. These employees perform tasks that are common in many Amazon facilities, such as the movement of totes, which carry products through robotic fulfillment centers.

The motion-capture software enables Amazon scientists and researchers to more accurately compare data captured in a lab environment to industry standards rather than other modelling tools traditionally used by ergonomists.

“With this data, visualisations, and employee feedback, we are looking to identify relatively simple changes that can make a big impact,” said Kevin Keck, worldwide director of Advanced Technology at Amazon. “Something as simple as changing the position of handles on totes may help lower the risk of injuries to our employees at a massive scale.”

Autonomous Robots creating new paths to safety

In order to reduce the need for employees to reach up or bend down when retrieving items, Amazon is testing a new workstation system called “Ernie.” According to the company Ernie takes totes off of a robotic shelf and uses a robotic arm to deliver it to employees, so they can remain in a more comfortable and stable position.

“We’re known for being passionate about innovating for customers, but being able to innovate with robotics for our employees is something that gives me an extra kick of motivation each day,” said Keck. “The innovation with a robot like Ernie is interesting because while it doesn’t make the process go any faster, we’re optimistic, based on our testing, it can make our facilities safer for employees.”

“Bert” is one of Amazon’s first Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), and is being tested to autonomously navigate through facilities with Amazon-developed advanced safety, perception, and navigation technology. In the future, it is thought that an employee would be able to summon Bert to carry items across a facility. 

‘Scooter’ and ‘Kermit’ are two other robots that also operate autonomously, and are both transport cars. The carts are used to carry empty totes and packages through our facilities. 

In a blog post the company said: ‘By having Autonomously Guided Carts (AGCs) like Scooter and Kermit perform physical tasks, we believe we can make our facilities safer and enable our employees to focus on jobs that require their critical thinking skills. In addition, using an AGC like Scooter to pull carts through our facilities reduces the risk of strains on our employees, or even collisions. We currently plan to deploy Scooter to at least one Amazon facility this year.’ 

Amazon began using robotics in its facilities in 2012, and since then they have added more than 1 million jobs worldwide while simultaneously deploying 350,000 mobile drive unit robots. 

“The role robotics and advanced technology can play in not only innovating for customers, but helping make our facilities safer, is a massive motivation for me and my team,” said Keck. “The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority. By listening to them, innovating on their behalf, and driving new technologies into our facilities over the coming months and years, I’m confident we’ll make a big contribution to our goal of reducing recordable incidents by 50% by 2025.”

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