SEOUL -- South Korea's first commercial drone delivery service will be kicked off in the southern resort island of Jeju, the transport ministry said. The delivery service targets some 130 households in Gapado, a remote island in the southwestern part of Jeju.
During the last five years, South Korea's government and private companies tested and demonstrated various drone delivery services for snacks and small parcels including medicines and daily necessities for people living in the islets scattered across the southern sea. However, no company won government approval for commercial services because of safety reasons.
South Korea's air space tightly webbed with commercial and military airways leaves very small areas for drone flights. Individuals and companies that wish to fly drones in urban areas including Seoul are normally required to receive approval from local governments and the defense ministry for every flight occasion.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said in a statement that the ministry selected 15 cities and locally governed areas for drone service demonstration. Subsidies will be provided accordingly to the population and size of the urban infrastructure of each area. Drone landing pods will be set up in Jeju and Gapado islands and dedicated airways will be designated for the drone delivery service. A drone control tower will identify and manage delivery drones in the area.
"This year would be the 'year one,' which commercialized K-drone delivery services would be kicked off," Transport ministry's aerial policy bureau officer Kim Young-guk said in a statement on March 17.
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