‘This is Engineering Inc.‘, a UAM (Urban Air Mobility) company based in Pangyo Techno Valley (CEO Yoo-jeong Hong), has launched SHIFT ZEROLAP, South Korea’s first commercial drone delivery service. Starting from August 1st, the service commenced operations at two water parks in Tancheon, Bundang-gu, Seongnam.
This initiative is part of the ‘2023 Drone Demonstration City Project’ run by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, selected by Seongnam City. It ranks among three demonstration projects, focusing on park delivery drones, underground sewage pipe inspection drones, and initial fire suppression drones.
Since 2017, Seongnam City has made substantial efforts to bring UAM technology into the mainstream, with Pangyo Techno Valley at its heart.
In a bid to foster startups and venture companies that will lead the future drone and UAM market, the Korea Institute of Aviation Safety Technology has been operating the Drone Startup Support Center since 2017. This facility is located on the 3rd floor of the 2nd Pangyo Business Growth Center. Chosen companies receive support, including a 40-80% rent subsidy, public laboratories, indoor drone testing grounds, and meeting rooms, enabling them to concentrate on technological advancement.
The 2nd Pangyo Techno Valley inaugurated its Business Growth Center with the vision to cultivate nascent drone developers. This center provides office space, management consulting, prototype production support, certification and intellectual property application support, as well as investment attraction assistance.
Despite its location near Seoul Airport, making flight testing challenging, Seongnam City and nearby local authorities are helping drone developers overcome this obstacle. In 2019, Seongnam City, the Air Force’s 15th Special Mission Wing, Aviation Safety Technology Institute, and KOICA (Korea International Cooperation Agency) located in the 2nd Pangyo, signed a cooperative agreement to establish an outdoor test airfield conducive to drone development. Regulations were relaxed, and test sites were created, enabling industrial companies to conduct test flights.
Companies in Pangyo Techno Valley are also boosting the development of UAM technology. Kakao Mobility struck a deal with Volocopter, a German UAM aircraft manufacturer, in 2021 and is now working on the technology to launch an air taxi service by 2025. This could potentially cut down the two-hour commute from Pangyo to Gimpo Airport to just 30 minutes.
NCsoft, a gaming company, has also thrown its hat in the ring to further UAM growth in South Korea. In 2022, the company emerged victorious in the 3rd Artificial Intelligence R&D Contest organized by the Ministry of Science and ICT, where they tackled various disaster-related missions. Furthermore, NCsoft invested KRW 1.5 billion in 2014 and KRW 4.8 billion in 2016 in drone technology startups ViRobot and UVFi, respectively.
The defense industry company, LIG Next, collaborated with LG Electronics in 2019 to develop motors used in drones. The partnership aimed at applications not only in commercial agriculture and construction industries but also in military drones used for reconnaissance and surveillance.
US-based Morgan Stanley has projected that the global UAM market will grow at an average annual rate of 30% between 2021 and 2040, reaching $1.5 trillion in 2040. Drone technology is increasingly being recognized as a solution to traffic and environmental problems stemming from urban concentration. Consequently, it is anticipated that the UAM technology spearheaded by Pangyo Techno Valley will help solve urban issues on a global scale.