SEOUL, Nov 11 (Reuters) – South Korea demonstrated a system for controlling urban air mobility vehicles (UAM) on Thursday, which it hopes will serve as taxis between major airports and downtown Seoul as soon as 2025, cutting travel time by two-thirds.
Last year, South Korea announced a roadmap to begin commercial urban air travel by 2025. The transport ministry estimates such services could cut travel time for distances between 30-50km (19-31 miles) from an hour by car to 20 minutes by air.
A pilot flew a two-seat model made by Germany’s Volocopter at Seoul’s Gimpo Airport to test and demonstrate its control and coordination.
When passengers are onboard the UAMs, a pilot must man the craft to ensure safety, a transport ministry official said, adding it would also aid acceptance by the general public.
Other technology demonstrated at the event included imaging equipment to detect and track the aircraft, and patented lighting systems for “vertiports” where drones land and take off.
A trip from Incheon International Airport to central Seoul, is expected to cost around 110,000 won ($93) when commercial journeys start in 2025 – more expensive than premium taxis – but to drop to around 20,000 won per trip after 2035 when the market matures, the ministry said.
Thursday’s test flight determined the air traffic control system that manages domestic and international flights at airports can also monitor and manage UAM aircraft, the ministry said in a statement.
“This shows that the existing air traffic operations can be conducted in harmony with UAM operations,” the statement said.
($1 = 1,178 won)