The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MOLIT) on Wednesday morning test flight six unmanned drone taxis in Yeouido capital city of Seoul, as South Korea pursues the commercialization of its urban air mobility (UAM) services by 2025.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government, together with MOLIT, hosted an event to exhibit the drone taxi in a densely populated area. The flight demonstration included a two-seater drone aircraft created by the Chinese firm, EHang. The aircraft covered a span of 1.8 kilometers at 50 meters above sea level for about seven minutes.
The drone flew around Seogang Bridge, Mapo Bridge Yeouido Hangang Park, and Bamseom.
Hyundai Motor and Hanwha Systems also participated in the event, displaying their respective model drone aircraft.
Hyundai exhibited its aircraft model, which it introduced first at the CES event early this year. Along with U.S.-based Uber Technologies, the carmaker developed the aircraft with an aim to commercialize the drone taxi by 2028.
Hanwha Systems introduced a smaller version model of its electric-powered air vehicle dubbed the “Butterfly.” In collaboration with US manufacturer Overair, Hanwha developed the aircraft as an electric vertical take-off and landing machine (eVTOL). Butterfly also features low-noise and eco-friendly technology.
According to Hanwha Systems, the company seeks to set up a “verti-hub” terminal for take-off and air taxi landings. The Gimpo International Airport in western Seoul, in cooperation with Korea Airports Corp., would house the verti-hub terminal.
Urban Air Mobility
Urban air mobility (UAM) is expected to become the next-generation alternative transport service that could ease traffic demands in urban places due to high population densities. Hanwha said in a statement that the global UAM market would reach 1.67 quadrillion won (US$1.5 trillion) by 2040.
The Korean government already instituted a plan to make urban air mobility (UAM) possible and aims for commercialization by 2025. The Seoul Metropolitan Government intends to increase its deployment for firefighting rescue endeavors starting in 2023.
During the event, Vice Minister Son Myung-soo stated that introducing the new eco-friendly transport system would effectively reduce travel time between major hubs, easing traffic congestion. UAM could generate 160,000 jobs and create a production stimulus beyond 23 trillion won (US$20 billion).
Last September, the ministry tested an unmanned drone food delivery service in Sejong City amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Five drones delivered products within 10 minutes to people’s homes two to three kilometers across a lake and high-rise buildings.
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