A South Korean drone company says it’s conducted the first long-distance drone delivery in the nation’s history.
In November, PABLO AIR completed the unmanned BVLOS flight from Seogwipo Port on Jeju Island to Cheonjin Port on Wudo Island, according to a company press release.
Using a hybrid drone, the Seoul-based firm logged the mission in at almost 36 miles with a flight time of nearly two hours. Company officials did not state the contents of the payload.
PABLO AIR drew media attention in March when 100 drones successfully performed an art show at South Korea’s Drone Regulatory Sandbox Fair. The company’s swarm drone-operating software will soon become commercially available, a PABLO AIR spokesperson said.
The company’s delivery drone uses an LTE/satellite communication system as well as a ground-control system that allows a single user to control one drone or a swarm. Once fully developed, the delivery system will include a mobile app, allowing customers to track their order in real time.
“PABLO AIR is also working closely with the military, which is keenly interested in swarm flight technology,” a company statement noted. “Recently, the Korean army has created a drone-bot combat group that will conduct surveillance, reconnaissance, attack, and transportation of military supplies.”
Interest in drone technology has skyrocketed across South Korea over the past few years.
In 2018, South Korean telecom giant KT Corp announced the launch of a drone platform to provide mobile communications centers that can remotely control other UAVs for search-and-rescue operations.
Dubbed SKYSHIP, the platform includes a helium-powered airship drone, mobile ground station, as well as installed smaller drones and robots. The airship will carry a pod filled with propellants, cameras, network modules and a scanning device which can detect smartphone signals to help identify missing people.
In 2017, Seoul announced a new investment of more than $1 billion (US) in the South Korean drone industry. The government hopes the initiative will create 164,000 new jobs by 2025. Officials aim to see more than 60,000 industrial drones within 10 years. So far, the government has bought more than 30,000 drones for public agencies.