Flying taxi takes off over Seoul in demonstration flight

Nov 18, 2020
Flying taxi takes off over Seoul in demonstration flight
SEOUL, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- South Korea offered a glimpse of a science-fiction future on Wednesday with a demonstration flight of a two-seat drone taxi in Seoul, as the government outlined ambitious plans to commercialize urban air travel by 2025.
At an event held next to the Han River near Yeouido, a finance and banking district in the heart of Seoul, a two-seat drone produced by Chinese manufacturer EHang buzzed quietly overhead for about seven minutes at an altitude of over 150 feet.
The eVTOL -- electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing Vehicle -- which carries a payload of 485 pounds and can reach speeds up to 80 mph, was loaded with heavy sacks of rice instead of passengers for the flight.
The demonstration was hosted by the Seoul city government and South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, which is developing a "K-drone" air- traffic management system as it plans for a sky that will soon be filled with everything from taxis to delivery drones.
"We are very happy to introduce drone taxi, the future transportation system, in Seoul for the first time in Korea," said Seo Jeong-hyup, acting mayor of Seoul. "The city government will do its best to ensure that the human dream of flying in the sky is safely settled as a reality for Seoul citizens and to support the future industry of Korea."
The event also featured demonstrations of several smaller unmanned package-delivery drones.
Flying vehicles are also expected to be a big business globally in the coming decades: Last year, Morgan Stanley projected that the global market for autonomous urban aircraft could reach $1.5 trillion by 2040.
South Korea’s MOLIT projects the country’s own market to be worth $11.6 billion by 2040, with the industry creating 160,000 jobs.
South Korea is lagging behind drone aircraft developers in Europe and the United States, however. Uber is planning to launch its aerial ride-sharing service, UberAir, in Dallas, Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia, in 2023.

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