SKT aims to become the first air taxi to debut by 2025

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Visitors experience virtual flights using a robot arm simulator at SK Telecom’s exhibition stand at the 2022 Busan International Motor Show on Friday. (SK Telecom)

BUSAN — SK Telecom, the country’s main telecommunications operator, said on Friday it aims to launch an air taxi service by 2025, calling UAM or urban air mobility a “game changer” for future mobility innovations.

“Our competitors are also planning to launch air taxi services in the coming years, but we are confident that we will be the first to market UAM aircraft,” said Ha Min-yong, director of development of SK Telecom, during the meeting. a press conference held at the 2022 Busan International Motor Show.

SK Telecom is the only non-manufacturer to participate in this year’s Busan Motor Show, which kicked off on Friday. During the week-long event, the company plans to showcase its upcoming UAM service and business plans.

SK Telecom leads one of three consortia that recently submitted bids to join the K-UAM Grand Challenge, a government-led program to select a commercial UAM operator. Hyundai Motor Group and Kakao Mobility are also competing to win the deal by creating separate consortia respectively. Unlike its competitors who have partnered with air carriers, SK Telecom does not have an aeronautical partner.

“We also discussed internally whether UAM business is restricted to air carriers and concluded that it is not,” Ha said. “What we are seeing is that the regulations or infrastructure for operating the UAM service will be different from the current aircraft operation.”

SK Telecom underscored its competitive edge as a total solution provider, saying communications in the air will be crucial to the success of air vehicles.

According to the company, its “Mobility as a Service” platform creates a system-based business-to-customer service that links UAM operation to real-time traffic information on roads using data from its mobility platform subsidiary Tmap Mobility. This will allow passengers to make advance reservations or freely transfer from an air taxi to a bus, metro or taxi.

SK Telecom, which is also investing heavily in artificial intelligence and machine learning, said more recently that its accumulated technological prowess and business savvy would come in very handy in upgrading its UAM services like autonomous flight.

Applying its know-how on operating data plans and the phone system, SK Telecom, the country’s top telecom operator by subscribers, said it also plans to offer commuter route plans. based on current taxi and bus fares. from the city center to the airport.

“Since up to four people can board the UAM aircraft, we will consider the most optimized and efficient fare system considering the cost of using related infrastructure such as the vertiport,” Ha said.

By Kim Da-sol ([email protected])

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