South Korean mobility group Kakao is starting a joint feasibility study with eVTOL aircraft developer Volocopter to explore the potential for launching urban air mobility (UAM) services in the country. Under a memorandum of understanding signed on November 23, the companies plan to release their findings in February 2022 to support ongoing efforts backed by the South Korean government to see UAM operations begin in 2025.
Earlier this month, Germany-based Volocopter conducted two public test flights with its 2X eVTOL vehicle in Seoul, the South Korean capital. The first was at Gimpo International Airport on November 11 and the second at Incheon International Airport, as part of the 2021 K-UAM Confex event on November 16. South Korea, Japan, China, and Singapore appear to be emerging as likely Asian early-adopters of eVTOL air taxi services.
Kakao Mobility operates an app that allows customers to book services such as taxis, car parking, and electric bikes, as well as train rides and airline flights. “As the largest mobility platform in South Korea with 30 million registered users, Kakao Mobility has deep insights on traffic patterns and customer needs in the Korean mobility market,” said the group’s chief technology officer, Seungil You. “Starting with the cooperation with Volocopter in the Korean market, we are looking forward to expanding our partnership across the UAM industry worldwide as well as our business in an airspace mobility platform of the future.”
Volocopter is working to certify the VoloCity production aircraft in 2023, having raised €322 million ($370 million) from investors, including automakers Daimler and China’s Geely. Last week, the company displayed the VoloCity at the CoMotion LA event in Los Angeles and the European Rotors trade show in Cologne, Germany. It has previously demonstrated its aircraft in Singapore, and last year it signed a cooperation agreement with Japan Airlines.