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Hyundai's US unit, Microsoft team up for urban air mobility

Jan. 4, 2023 - 14:17 By Lee Seung-ku
Supernal CEO and Hyundai Motor Group President Shin Jai-won (left) and Microsoft Cloud + AI Corporate Vice President Ulrich Homann pose for a picture during Shin's visit to the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, last month. (Hyundai Motor Group)

Hyundai Motor Group said Wednesday its US-based urban air mobility unit Supernal is collaborating with Microsoft to develop advanced air mobility (AMM) solutions.

The South Korean automotive company said it will use Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, Microsoft Azure, to develop and operate AMM solutions for autonomous flight and virtual manufacturing.

The cloud platform will allow Supernal to run simulations at scale and accelerate the commercialization of its solutions, Hyundai added.

Under the agreement, Microsoft will provide Supernal with early access to its artificial intelligence-based high-performance flight simulation platform Project AirSim. According to Microsoft, the machine-learning platform uses Azure to collect sensory data on the environment and simulate UAM flights under various weather conditions.

Supernal said Project AirSim provides pre-trained AI models as well, and generates key synthetic data which would help expedite the development of an innovative future aviation ecosystem.

A captured image of a UAM flight simulation done on Microsoft's Project AirSim. (Supernal)

The mobility firm will also look to incorporate the US software company's mixed-reality headset HoloLens2 in its UAM aircraft manufacturing, quality control, customer experience and aircraft maintenance processes.

“Supernal has an obligation to ensure safe and secure development of eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) vehicles,” said Supernal CEO Shin Jai-won. “We are pleased to collaborate with Microsoft, a software leader in responsibly advancing AAM autonomous systems and information sharing.”

“With the Microsoft Cloud, Supernal can unlock the computing power it takes to build, validate and deploy electric air vehicles at scale, spurring the commercialization of air mobility solutions,” said Microsoft Cloud and AI Corporate Vice President Ulrich Homann.

Meanwhile, Supernal plans on launching UAM services in the US by 2028. It participated in the Farnborough International Airshow last year, and showcased the interior design of its eVTOL aircraft.

As part of its development plans, the company has been building a network with global mobility firms. It recently made business agreements with Rolls Royce, Urban Airport, and Safran.