South Korea has shown once again it leads the Asian drone market by holding the largest show of its type in the region between February 23rd and 25th, reports

Drone Show Korea 2023, is presently taking place at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Centre (BEXCO) in the south-eastern port city of Busan. This is the seventh show of its kind hosting some of the top companies in this specialist field. There are 625 booths covering a floor space of 17,600 square metres with 172 companies exhibiting.

Examples include Korean Air Lines who are showcasing various unmanned aerial vehicles; Doosan Mobility Innovation displaying a hydrogen fuel cell-based drone; Aeroscout and its medical delivery aircraft; Pablo Air; and other Urban Air Mobility projects covering craft from GS Engineering & Construction and Kakao Mobility to LG Uplus.

Flying taxis are also on display including the South Korean company, Plana Aero, and a model of its hybrid-powered VTOL. The company was founded last year by Braden J.Kim, a former Hyundai UAM Development Executive.

Doosan Mobility Hydrogen-Powered Drone (Credit Xinhua/Wang Yiliang)

The South Korean defence sector is represented by the Army’s Dronbot Combat System as well as the Navy’s maritime manned/unmanned integrated combat system and the Air Force’s aerial military system.

Under the theme “Everything about drones, Facing our drone future”, the exhibition focuses on the many types of craft, their usage and scalability and growth of the industry. The exhibition also brings together leading global companies from various technology sectors including telecommunications, geospatial navigation, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.

Overseas businesses unable to attend in the past due to Covid-19 restrictions are here this year including DJI from China and Flyability SA from Switzerland. Dozens of government and corporate officials from eight different nations including the USA, Japan, Britain and Germany are in attendance.

The show also includes various talks, Forums and discussion groups for visitors to attend including a drone delivery experience program and drone games. The exhibition is jointly hosted by the South Korean Industry, Science, Land and Defence Ministries as well as the Busan City Government.

Pablo Air Delivery Drone (Credit Xinhua/Wang Yiliang)

The event is all part of South Korea’s determination to establish itself as a leader in the impending Urban Air Mobility industry with all eyes on 2027, when the country aims to have extensive drone delivery across the country.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport stated in a press release this week that it is to encourage local businesses to run small “Micro-Fulfillment Centres” (MFCs) in urban areas to realise quick delivery that takes no-more than 30 minutes to an hour. Drones will play a major role. These logistic centres only require a piece of land for a small warehouse. Artificial intelligence (AI) is to be adopted to improve work efficiency.

Elsewhere, South Korea is aiming to begin flying taxi rides and robot delivery by 2025; a 30 percent share in the 6G market by 2030; and spacecraft on the moon in 2032. These are some of the goals set out in the Korean government’s “New Growth 4.0 Strategy,” details of which were released this week.

In total, 15 areas have been targeted. These include future mobility; space exploration; quantum technology; future medical technology; energy technology; AI and 6G communication networks; and Bioscience innovation. 

For example, 6G will greatly help the expansion of drone delivery, so the South Korean government plans to encourage the participation of private developers. According to the government, Korea ranks second in the world for 5G network, with a global share of 25.9 percent. China ranks top with a 26.8 percent market share, while the U.S. trails behind with 17.7 percent.

 Plana Aero VTOL (Credit Xinhua/Wang Yiliang)

Meanwhile, one of the areas that the government is speeding up is the commercialisation of eVTOLs. It plans to open a test bed for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) in Goheung, South Jeolla, in August. Major private companies, including Hyundai Motor and Korean Air, are to develop an aircraft, while SK Telecom, KT and LG U+ will participate in the development of traffic control. Testing the technology over city centres is to begin in 2024.

Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said during a government emergency meeting this week, “In order to enhance our economic vitality and for a strong and swift rebound, productivity enhancement and pre-emptive investment on the future through technology innovation is very important.”   

The government plans to establish a precision digital map to allow the commercialisation of fully autonomous drones in four years. It also hopes to popularise self-driving vehicles by 2035.

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(Top image: Aeroscout Drone – Credit Xinhua/Wang Yiliang)