A model of the S-A1 urban air taxi concept is displayed during a Hyundai media event at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Photo: Mario Tama / Getty Images / AFP

Come fly with me, we’ll fly, we’ll fly away;

If you can use some exotic booze;

There’s a bar in far Bombay;

Come on fly with me, we’ll fly, we’ll fly away.

*Music: Jimmy Van Heusen. Lyrics: Sammy Cahn.

Come Fly with Me was specially written for Frank Sinatra and was the title number of his 1958 album. At the time, air travel was still “exotic” but that was about to change in the 1960s as “package holidays” started to take off.

Nearly 60 years later, flying cars are being billed as the next alluring big thing.

Earlier this week, Hyundai announced it would mass-produce sky taxis for Uber’s aerial ride-sharing network, which is planned to take to the air in 2023.

The South Korean auto manufacturer aims to produce four-passenger electric “vertical take-off and landing vehicles” without going into details at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Still, the decision could help Uber, which is working with other aircraft manufacturers, to achieve its goal of deploying air taxi services in key cities during the next three years.

“We know how to mass-produce high-quality vehicles,” Shin Jai-won, the head of Hyundai’s urban air mobility division, told a news conference.

Toyota’s Akio Toyoda, left, and Bjarke Ingels Group founder Bjarke Ingels against the backfrop of a planned smart city near Mount Fuji. Photo: David Becker / Getty Images / AFP

The partnership, Shin added, would allow for the short-range air taxis to be “affordable for everyone.”

Eric Allison, of Uber Elevate, was just as bullish when discussing the US-Korean collaboration.

“By taking transportation out of the two-dimensional grid on the ground and moving it into the sky, we can offer significant time savings to our riders,” he said.

Previously, Uber had announced that it would roll out its air taxis in Melbourne, Dallas and Los Angeles.

“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 rideshare network,” the companies were quoted as saying in a joint statement.

Stef Streit, the TCL Mobile global marketing manager, displays the new 10 series smartphone at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Photo: AFP / David McNew

As for Hyundai, it is using the Consumer Electronics Show to showcase the S-A1 model aircraft with a cruising speed of up to 180 miles, or 290 kilometers per hour.

The aircraft utilizes “distributed electric propulsion,” designed with multiple rotors that can keep it in the air if one of them fails. The smaller rotors also help reduce noise, which is important in cities.

Elsewhere, a smart city from Toyota and a new 5G smartphone from China’s TCL were among the other major announcements during the CES preview day.

The Japanese auto giant plans to create a “woven city” on 70 hectares, or 175 acres, at the base of Mount Fuji. It would be powered by hydrogen fuel cells, to test autonomous driving and other technologies.

“Building a complete city from the ground up, even on a small scale like this, is a unique opportunity to develop future technologies, including a digital operating system for the city’s infrastructure,” Akio Toyoda, the Toyota president, said, adding that the city would be designed for around 2,000 people.

On a smaller scale, Chinese consumer electronics firm TCL offered a glimpse of three new smartphones, including one tailored for super-fast 5G networks.

The company also revealed it was working on a phone with a screen that folds like a book, and a visor headset that gives an experience like looking at a 110-inch television screen. Both of those were prototypes in development.

– with reporting from AFP

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