South Korea would pass a special law to commercialize urban air mobility (UAM) transport system ahead of other countries in the next five years.
During a meeting on Thursday, Minister Hong Nam-ki, head of finance, stated that early commercialization would help South Korean companies get an advantage against international competition in the initial market.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MOLIT) said that the government initially intends to start UAM services in the metropolitan Seoul area with one or two terminals by 2025. The ministry added that it would raise the number of terminals to 10 by 2030.
A ministry official said that the ministry would collaborate with local companies and Hyundai Motor Group and proceed with the UAM commercialization project. The UAM services would provide a faster mode of transport than buses and subways.
Minister Hong said that UAMs such as passenger and cargo transport drones would innovate transportation service. A new growth industry in the future would flourish to 730 trillion won ($599 billion) by 2040. The government ensures its leadership in this market if it would commercialize amidst increasing competition from international companies like Uber.
Urban air mobility (UAM) is a comprehensive industrial network composed of infrastructures such as charging technologies, new flight navigation systems, take-off and landing fields, and personal air vehicles (PAVs). PAVs or flying cars become apparent as a future mode of transportation in response to worsening traffic situations.
The government would utilize drones first developed for freight services then later modified for transporting passengers. The transport ministry currently tests key technologies in urban air mobility services and reviews related safety regulations.
Road Map to Commercialization
During the conference, the government revealed a road map on the commercialization of drone taxis in 2025 and autonomous flights in 2035. Pilots would fly the PAVs for about ten years after the first stage of commercialization. The government plans to complete a one-seater vehicle by 2023 and finalize operating standards by 2024.
Kim Sang-do, policymaker in the MOLIT, stated that South Korea swiftly established a government-level road map for institutional and policy support even though other countries outpace UAM technology development in the country.
Hong told that the government would propose transportation licenses and devise an insurance scheme and a profit-sharing system for South Korea’s K-UAM infrastructure that would enable the private sector to strive for commercialization and technology advancement. The government would promote the enactment of a special UAM law that would accelerate the implementation of these strategies.