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LG Uplus consortium selected by Busan to carry out UAM demonstration

By Lim Chang-won Posted : July 27, 2022, 11:11 Updated : July 27, 2022, 11:11

[Courtesy of LG Uplus]

SEOUL -- A consortium involving LG Uplus, a mobile carrier in South Korea, will carry out demonstration projects in the southern city of Busan using its marine infrastructure with the aim of commercializing urban air mobility, an ecosystem covering personal air vehicles and infrastructure, in 2026.

LG Uplus (LGU+) said that the consortium has signed a business agreement with the Busan city government, two military units including a naval fleet command and other organizations to commercialize UAM and foster its ecosystem. Busan will build vertiports in key locations that would serve as UAM terminals for air transportation services to the city center.

The agreement aims to promote a strategy to foster the Busan area as a UAM forward base, LGU+ said, adding that the consortium would carry out demonstration projects to revitalize UAM early and preoccupy the market. Busan will build UAM vertiports for taking off and landing in key locations that would serve as terminals for air transportation services to the city center.

Busan disclosed a goal to become a regional hub city for the establishment of a specialized urban air mobility ecosystem utilizing its maritime environment and logistics infrastructure. A seaside demonstration section was set for the development of various business models. The port city has described itself as an ideal place to develop a specialized UAM platform that secures operational reliability in the marine environment by utilizing marine airspace. 

"We will try to secure next-generation mobility service-related technologies by verifying traffic management systems and stable communication bases that can safely operate UAMs," LGU+ chief technology officer Lee Sang-yeob said in a statement on July 27.

The consortium groups Kakao Mobility, GS Caltex, GS E&C, Jeju Air, and Pablo Air, LGU+ and LG Science Park, a corporate research campus involving LG Group units. "We will do our best to make Busan the nation's No. 1 UAM city and the global UAM leader through close cooperation between Busan and the consortium, which encompasses the entire UAM value chain," said LG Science Park head Park Il-pyung.

Consortium members have been involved in other UAM deals and recruited Vertical Aerospace, a British aerospace manufacturer, in May 2022 for the demonstration of UAM to establish K-UAM standards and find UAM business opportunities. Vertical provide its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft while LGU+ will provide traffic management systems and communication services to verify the coverage of mobile communication suitable for UAM routes. 
 
UAM Team Korea, a public-private consultative body, has been launched to commercialize manned drone taxis in 2025, remote-controlled vehicles in 2030 and a fully autonomous service in 2035. The government has worked out a "K-UAM Grand Challenge" program to demonstrate the safety of air taxis and test traffic management functions.

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