As the Korean government has started to construct UAM (Urban Air Mobility) infrastructure, the development of ‘air taxi,’ which are expected to grow to 1,700 trillion in 2040, is accelerating. The UAM is considered one of the next-generation mobility technologies as it can not only relieves traffic on roads and improve the convenience of movement but also be operated by eco-friendly energy such as electric and hydrogen fuel cells. It is expected to solve problems of population concentration in large cities and land transportation network traffic.
Morgan Stanley, a US investment company, predicted that the global UAM market will grow 30 per cent annually between 2021 and 2040, reaching USD 1.5 trillion (about 1,700 trillion won) by 2040. Porsche Consulting predicted that half of the drone transportation will be passenger transportation by 2035.
On December 28 last year, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport approved the private-public led UAM demonstration project ‘K-UAM Grand Challenge Operation Plan,’ and decided to carry out the project to verify safety and prepare operating system and technology standards before the UAM commercialisation. The first phase of the ‘Grand Challenge’ project will be conducted next year at the National Comprehensive Flight Performance Test Center in Goheung, Jeollanam-do. For the second phase of the demonstration in 2014, the test operation will be conducted in the airport-city UAM route, which is expected to be first commercialized in 2025.
Accordingly, the competition between corporate alliances and companies such as ‘Hyundai Motor-KT,’ ‘Hanwha-SK,’ Lotte, and Kakao has become fierce. As Korean Air announced that it decided to participate in the Hyundai Motor-KT UAM alliance on November 16 last year, the UAM competition with the Hanwha-SK alliance began in earnest. The five companies agreed to cooperate in various areas such as establishing the UAM ecosystem, strengthening social acceptance enhancement activities, promoting the UAM industry, developing and demonstrating business cooperation roadmaps, and carrying out the K-UAM roadmaps and UAM Team Korea business activities.
In addition, Hyundai Motor Group’s UAM company ‘Supernal’ has signed partnerships with three companies, Britain’s ‘Altitude Angel,’ Germany’s ‘Sky Road’ and the US ‘One Sky,’ to cooperate in establishing industry standards. The companies will also reportedly integrate UAM-related divisions, which have been separately located such as Hyundai Motor’s headquarters in Yangjae-dong and Namyang Research Institute.
The ‘K-UAM Dream Team’ alliance, which includes Hanwha System, SK Telecom, Korea Airports Corporation, and Korea Transport Institute, succeeded in demonstrating the UAM at Gimpo Airport on November 11 last year. SKT stably connected the ground control station and the UAM pilot, who operated the flight outside Gimpo International Airport for about 3 minutes. A German volocopter was used for the demonstration.
Korea Airports Corporation and Hanwha System also proved their advanced technology. Korea Airports Corporation conducted the UAM airport demonstration for the first time in Korea and also unveiled future vertiport using the integrated UAM-aircraft control system and business aviation terminal. Hanwha System exhibited a real-size model of the five-seater air mobility aircraft ‘Butterfly,’ which can be operated safely and fast at the maximum speed of 320km/h. SK Telecom also recently established a ‘UAM business TF’ and is speeding up its business.
Lotte Holdings and Lotte Rental have signed a cooperation partnership with seven organizations, including the US Skyworks Aeronautics, Mobius Energy, and Incheon City, on November 16 last year. The partnership is aiming to provide differentiated transport services by connecting flights with ground-based networks such as Lotte Rental. Skyworks Aeronautics will develop aircraft, Mobius Energy will be in charge of battery module development, and Korea’s Mint Air will operate the aircraft. Incheon City and the Korea Aerospace Research. Institute will support test operation and business management.
Lotte Rental will focus on operating a mobility platform that connects flights and ground stations, and also is considering establishing and operating various infrastructures such as UAM vertiports and charging stations. Lotte Holdings will support the overall demonstration project based on its capability and network.Kakao Mobility has tied up with the global UAM aircraft manufacturer Volocopter to commercialize the ‘Korean UAM’ service.