Thursday, September 24, 2020

Flying machines


Source: pixabay



Domestically, the drone is defined in the law as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System and Unmanned Aircraft System.

Regulation issues in Korea are the biggest obstacle to the drone industry. In 2017, the government introduced a program to support drone manufacturing companies providing them with benefits, but there are still limitations on the actual use of drones.  The regulations changed again recently with the new Drone Law that allows close to no restrictions on drone usage in selected cities. Even though the drone industry had a late start, the liberalized regulations will open up opportunities in the future.  

Experts predict that the domestic market will grow rapidly as regulations are relaxed and conglomerate invest in the market. Korea is a late starter compared to other countries and the technology might be a bit lagging. However, if the government, cooperates with private companies with the right technology, it will bring positive results.

Based on an article in the Maeil Business Newspaper, the government has composed a three-stage road map to reduce regulations as well as to provide financial support in order to facilitate the safe development of an advanced drone industry. The first step is to develop technology where manually controlled drones can transport weight up to 10kg in non-urban areas. After 2022, semi-automated drones will transport 50kg or more in urban areas. Lastly, after 2025, autopilot advance drones will be able to provide transportation for two or more people. 

The government believes that advanced drones can improve many industries but the most significant change is assumed to be in the agricultural industry.  Most investment is aligned with this belief.


Focus of Investment in Advanced Drones


Market Potential:

Source: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport


Conglomerates are entering the market as they see the potential that drone technology can create. Major logistics companies are investing in the market and network companies are also looking for possibilities. Hyundai Motors announced that they are planning for commercialized drone taxis by 2023. The current market is focused on military use drones, but experts predict that the market will soon shift to agriculture, content, and construction.  


Estimated drone market size:







Source: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport

Unit: KRW Billion

Competing with the two large markets of the United States and China, domestic manufacturers will have offer [or 'bring to the table'] unique value added.  While Chinese manufacturers will be able to offer price competitive products given their established supply chain, Korean firms will need a different strategy. For example, they could promote drones that support care and guidance for the elderly or gaming content.  Developing essential parts for drones should also be a priority.  The potential for the drone industry is unlimited. Another related area where Korea's future is bright is the autonomous vehicle industry. 

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