Companies partner for aerial ride-sharing across South Korea

South Korean telecommunications company SKT and Joby have teamed to introduce an air taxi service to cities and communities across the republic.

Joby, a California-based company developing an all-electric, five-seat aircraft that can take off and land vertically (eVTOL), has signed a strategic collaboration agreement with SKT to this end.

Urban air mobility roadmap

The agreement will see the companies work closely on introducing this form of transportation in support of the South Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport’s K-UAM (Korean Urban Air Mobility) roadmap, first announced in 2020.

SKT reports it has been promoting the development of urban air mobility by leveraging its expertise in telecommunications, autonomous driving, precise positioning, and security. As a member of the “UAM Team Korea”, SKT is also working with other major Korean companies to help enhance the nation’s competitiveness in the field.

The partners intend to leverage SK’s T Map mobility platform, and UT ride-hailing service to provide multi-modal journeys to customers – seamlessly integrating both ground and air travel. UT was established as a joint venture between SKT and Uber in 2021, bringing together SK’s T Map platform and Uber’s ride-sharing technology. Joby and Uber have been collaborating since 2019.

“By joining forces with Joby, a global leader in this field, we expect to accelerate our journey towards the era of urban air mobility and lead the way on introducing this exciting new technology,” said Ryu Young-sang, CEO of SKT.

“Collaborating with leading global companies is essential to securing leadership in future industries, which we are confident will be driven by the growth of UAM, autonomous driving, and robots.”

Joby claims to have spent more than a decade developing the technology behind its aircraft, completing more than 1,000 test flights and becoming the first, and only, eVTOL company to sign a G-1 (stage 4) certification basis for its aircraft with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

With a maximum range of 150 miles (241 kilometres), a top speed of 200 mph (321 km/h), and a low noise profile that will allow it to access built-up areas, Joby said its piloted aircraft is designed to make convenient, emissions-free air travel an everyday reality.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the team at SKT who bring a wealth of relevant experience and technology to the table,” added JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby.

“With more than 42 million people living in urban areas, South Korea offers a remarkable opportunity for Joby to make air travel a part of daily life, helping people to save time while reducing their carbon footprint.”

While Joby’s aerial ride-sharing service will be operated directly by the company and offered to passengers via the Joby app or the Uber app in core US markets, Joby said the announcement reflects its strategy to partner with local companies committed to delivering customer service and operational excellence in select markets outside the US.