The South Korean government will spend 6 billion won ($5.3 million) to establish a drone test site in Hwaseong City, Gyeonggi Province, by 2020, to facilitate testing of unmanned sky vehicles amid complaints that the local drone industry cannot lift off under the chain of traditional vehicle regulations.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and local government picked Hwaseong as the first city to have a drone test-flying site in Gyeonggi Province by giving it an exemption to current law banning drone flights in Seoul and nearby cities in Gyeonggi.
The country has drone test sites in Yeongwol in Gangwon Province, Boeun in North Chungcheong Province and Goseong in South Gyeongsang Province, and one is under construction in Incheon.
The drone test site in Hwaseong will have a flight control center on an area of 1,000 square meters and a runway that is 200 meters long and 20 meters wide, as well as a maintenance area and landing field. The estimated cost of 6 billion won will be entirely supported by the government.
The Gyeonggi provincial government, Hwaseong city government and the Korea Institute of Aviation Safety Technology will soon pick an exact location for the drone test site that will be installed with full equipment to track and monitor drones flying for a long period of time or beyond visible line of sight.
Companies who are engaged in businesses like delivery, forest protection, land survey and advertising and subject to the so-called ‘regulatory sandbox’ will be able to test-fly drones at the site. The regulatory sandbox is one of the government’s deregulation measures, which exempts some innovative firms from existing regulations for a certain period of time.
The city aims to set up a drone cluster once the construction of the test-flying site is completed, by attracting a certification center, training center and drone-related firms in surrounding areas.
By Ji Hong-gu and Choi Mira
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]