Hyundai Motor made big news at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) today, unveiling the Hyundai Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) as the centerpiece 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-fiber-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 program 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 fiber 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 articulations and lighting sequences to simulate the vehicle in flight. 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 the components and mechanical systems to complete the 50-foot-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, transport everything to Las Vegas and reassemble it at the center of Hyundai's CES display in preparation 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."
Unlike the household names with whom they work – including most major auto manufacturers, multiple aerospace, defense 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 defense 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.
Aria Composite Systems (ACS) will be a standalone division of Aria Group dedicated to the development and manufacture of composite structures and components, primarily targeting the eVTOL and Autonomous Vehicle industries. Aria will continue development of its proprietary Carbon Composite Manufacturing processes and 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.
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|Aria Group||Design Services, Engineering Design Services, Computer-aided Engineering, Models, Computer-aided Design, Milling, Machining Services, Additive Manufacturing (Resin), Additive Manufacturing, Carbon-reinforced Composites, Composite Manufacturing Services, Autoclaves, Metal & Alloy Fabrications|
|Aria Composite Systems (ACS)||Carbon-reinforced Composites, Composite Structures, Composite Manufacturing Services, Polymer Composites, Plastic Components|
|Supernal, LLC||Airframer, Research/Consulting Services|
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