With propellers spinning, an electric-powered pilotless drone taxi took off into the sky above Seoul for the first time for a seven-minute test flight over the Han River.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and Seoul Metropolitan Government jointly hosted an event on Wednesday to present the technology.
“The government is pushing to commercialize Urban Air Mobility by 2025. We are holding this demonstration in order for citizens to actually see the development of UAM.”
The ministry said that between now and 2040, the drone taxi and the new transport system will create around 160-thousand jobs and have an economic impact of 20 billion U.S. dollars.
At the event, smaller drones also delivered letters and presents to the attendees.
“Tech companies also had the opportunity to showcase their latest drone taxi models that could potentially reduce traffic congestion in urban areas in the near future.”
It will only take 20 minutes by drone taxi to travel the 40 kilometers from Yeouido, western Seoul to Incheon International Airport a journey that usually takes an hour by car.
And as the technology develops, drone taxis will become more affordable.
“I think South Korea, we have a really strong government, the motivation. They are very motivated and they really like to help the industry. Korea has a really good component technologies like batteries and the motors so I think we are quite well posed.”
However, the expert said safety standards such as air certification, operation and traffic control need to be worked out before commercialization.