Earlier this week, South Korea began testing a new system that will be used to control urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles. This trial will determine whether the new mode of transportation can be used for travel between major airports.
The new air taxis have the potential to cut travel times between major airports by two-thirds in the capital Seoul. In 2020, South Korea announced a roadmap detailing a timeline for the commercialization of urban air travel by 2025.
Reporting from Gizmochina (13/11), the local transport ministry also expects the service to reduce travel times for distances between 30 to 50 kilometres from a duration of 1 hour to only 20 minutes by air.
“Because UAM is expected to be one of the means of public transportation used by citizens in their daily lives, it is very important for us to test and try UAM services in various environments,” said South Korean Transportation Minister Noh Hyeong-ouk.
The test had pilots fly a two-seat model made by German Volocopter at Seoul’s Gimpo airport to test control and coordination. The UAM in question is VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) based and features a helicopter-like rotor.
In particular, the aircraft can also be piloted and even operate autonomously. However, ministry officials stated that pilots must control the plane to ensure the safety of passengers on board, which will also help the general public’s acceptance of the new mode of travel. Currently, local designers have also showcased their own drone models, with a full-sized prototype model expected to begin test flights in 2022.