SEOUL -- Lotte, a conglomerate based in South Korea, joined a business alliance involving U.S. companies to promote demonstration flights for urban air mobility in a project led by the western port city of Incheon to open an air taxi service. Urban air mobility (UAM) is an ecosystem covering personal air vehicles and infrastructure such as a new navigation system, take-off and landing fields and charging technologies.
Lotte Corporation, the holding company of Lotte Group, said that it signed a business agreement with the Incheon city government, Skyworks Aeronautics, Mobius Energy, and Mint Air, a startup company in building an advanced air mobility service in South Korea, to push for UAM test flights from 2022.
Skyworks Aeronautic, an American autogyro research and development company, is in charge of aircraft development. Battery modules will be developed by Mobius energy, a U.S. startup that produces safe, high-power, and energy-dense battery modules optimized for electric aircraft. Mint Air is responsible for aircraft operation. Incheon and the Institute for Aerospace Industry-Academia Collaboration will help test flights and business operations.
Lotte Rental, a car rental provider, will focus on operating an integrated mobility platform that connects aviation and the ground, and consider establishing and operating infrastructure such as vertiports and charging stations.
Lotte Corporation said it would combine the group's capabilities and networks to support the demonstration of test flights. "We will mobilize the group's capabilities to ensure that this demonstration flight is successful in preparation for the upcoming era of urban air mobility," an unnamed Lotte official said in a statement on November 16.
The goal is to operate a UAM service between Incheon International Airport and Jamsil, a neighborhood of Seoul's southeastern district of Songpa where Lotte runs a major recreation complex. South Korea has formed UAM Team Korea, a public-private consultative body, to commercialize drone taxis in 2025.
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