Sunday, February 25, 2024

Supernal unveils redesigned eVTOL air taxi concept at CES 2024

Hyundai Motor Group’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) company, Supernal, has unveiled S-A2, its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle product concept at CES 2024. The vehicle is designed to carry a pilot and up to four passengers, and it marks a significant step towards Supernal’s goal of making safe, efficient, and affordable everyday passenger air travel a reality.

The S-A2 is an improvement on the company’s previous concept, the S-A1, which was introduced at CES 2020. It combines cutting-edge aerospace engineering with Hyundai Motor Group’s automotive aesthetic design to create a new mode of transportation that will help people travel faster from point A to point B in urban areas.

Supernal aims to achieve commercial aviation safety levels and make its vehicles affordable to manufacture, with plans to enter the market in 2028.

S-A2 is a V-tail aircraft that can fly at 120 mph (200 km/h) and 1,500 feet above the ground. The aircraft is designed to meet the needs of short city trips of no more than 40 miles (64 km) initially.

The S-A2 features a distributed electric propulsion architecture and has eight all-tilting rotors. Supernal’s vehicle will operate as quietly as a dishwasher, producing only 65 dB of noise during verticle takeoff and landing and 45 dB during horizontal flight.

The vehicle is designed to carry a pilot and up to four passengers.
The vehicle is designed to carry a pilot and up to four passengers. Credit: Supernal

The vehicle is designed with a priority on safety and a focus on sustainability and passenger comfort. It is engineered to achieve the global commercial aviation standard of safety and has a robust airframe structure, including redundant components in critical systems such as powertrain, flight controls, and avionics. Additionally, the vehicle will be manufactured leveraging Hyundai’s mass production capability to maintain superior quality while being cost-effective.

The cabin silhouette is similar to Archer’s Midnight design, which has a unique snub-nosed appearance with landing gear under the nose and extending back behind the wing for a three-point footprint. Additionally, it appears that the four passengers in the back will have large upper and lower windows to enjoy the view during the flight. The pilot will also have a good view of the landing pad during the approach, although mainly out to the sides.

Supernal is focusing not only on optimizing its vehicle for certification, mass production, and expanded use cases but also on interior modularity and battery upgradability. This includes the ability to replace the battery module as technology advances.

Supernal’s engineering teams partnered with Hyundai Motor Group’s automotive designers on S-A2’s aesthetics that will attract aviation operators and create the preferred AAM passenger experience. The integration of aviation-grade, energy-absorbing components in the seat frames and the minimalist design is a great touch. The lighting transitions throughout phases of flight will make the cabin feel more spacious, and it’s also helpful for providing visual cues, such as where to enter and exit the vehicle.

“S-A2 is designed to take full advantage of emerging electric powertrain advancements that will define the next generation of aviation,” said Ben Diachun, chief technology officer of Supernal, in the press release. “From here, we will develop this concept into a revolutionary commercial product.”