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South Korea is putting a system for controlling air taxis to the test

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.

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 automobile to 20 minutes by air for routes between 30 and 50 kilometres (19 and 31 miles).

“Because UAM is projected to become one of the most popular modes of transportation used by residents in daily life, it is critical that we test and try out UAM services in a variety of contexts,” said Transport Minister Noh Hyeong-ouk, who attended the demonstration on Thursday.

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 ride from Incheon International Airport to central Seoul is estimated to cost roughly 110,000 won ($93) – more expensive than luxury cabs – but will drop to around 20,000 won each trip after 2035 as the market matures, according to the ministry.



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