On Thursday, South Korea showed a system for controlling urban air mobility vehicles (UAM), which it aims to use as taxis between major airports and downtown Seoul by 2025, cutting travel time in half.
South Korea unveiled a plan last year to start commercial urban air transport by 2025. According to the Ministry of Transportation, such services might reduce travel time from an hour by vehicle to 20 minutes by air for routes between 30 and 50 kilometers (19 and 31 miles).
“As UAM is expected to become one of the common means of transportation that citizens use in daily life, it is absolutely imperative that we test and try out UAM services in various environments,” Transport Minister Noh Hyeong-ouk, who attended the demonstration on Thursday, said in a statement.
A pilot-tested and demonstrated the control and coordination of a two-seat model built by Germany’s Volocopter at Seoul’s Gimpo Airport.
The craft displayed may be piloted or function independently without one, and is powered by helicopter-like rotors for vertical take-offs and landings.
A pilot must be onboard the UAMs when passengers are on board to ensure safety, according to a transport ministry official, who added that this would also help with public acceptability.
Designers from South Korea also displayed a mockup of their own drone aircraft. According to the transport ministry, a full-scale prototype is anticipated to begin test flights next year with the goal of developing an operational five-seat version.
Imaging devices to detect and track the aircraft, as well as proprietary lighting systems for “vertiports” where drones land and take off, were also on display at the exhibition.
When commercial journeys begin in 2025, a trip from Incheon International Airport to center Seoul is projected to cost roughly $93 – more expensive than luxury cabs.
The ministry said in a statement that the test flight proved that the air traffic control system that regulates domestic and international flights at airports can also monitor and supervise UAM aircraft.
“This demonstrates that traditional air traffic operations can coexist with UAM operations,” according to the release.