By Hyunjoo Jin
SEOUL, Jan 7 (Reuters) - U.S. ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc UBER.N and South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor 005380.KS plan to jointly develop electric air taxis, they said on Monday, joining the race for flying cars to ease urban congestion.
Hyundai unveiled a concept electric aircraft developed with Uber at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Monday, which is designed to fly on trips of up to 60 miles (100 km) and has a cruising speed of up to 180 miles per hour (290 km per hour).
Uber has pledged to begin demonstrator urban flights in 2020 and commercial operations in 2023 as part of its project, which also counts Boeing BA.N subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences as one of its partner firms. Hyundai is the first carmaker to team up with Uber on the project.
"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," the two companies said in a joint statement.
Plane makers, car manufacturers and technology firms are jumping into the flying car segment designed to address urban congestion, although significant technological and regulatory hurdles remain to be addressed.
Last year, Hyundai hired Shin Jai-won, a veteran aeronautics engineer from NASA, to head its newly established Urban Air Mobility Division, and pledged to invest 1.8 trillion won ($1.5 billion) in what it called "urban air mobility" by 2025.
U.S. planemaker Boeing Co said in October it was working with Volkswagen's VOWG_p.DE sports car brand, Porsche, to develop a concept electric flying vehicle capable of transporting people in urban areas.
($1 = 1,168.8600 won)
(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Susan Fenton)
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