Let's talk about all things tech.
A couple of announcements have been made earlier this week in the tech industry. One of them is the land ministry's announcement to adopt "air taxis" in Seoul's skies from 2025 at the earliest. The other is Amazon's introduction of household robot Astro, which will be more than just "Alexa on wheels."
To talk us through these latest tech developments, we have Hyunchul SHIM, Director of the KAIST Future Mobility Research Institute. Thank you for joining us.
So first, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said Tuesday that it will launch urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles from 2025 at the earliest to ease the traffic congestion in Seoul.
They said they will do this in three stages every five years until 2035. The first five years will involve pilot controlled UAM, the second stage will involve remotely controlled taxis, and the third stage will finally see completely autonomous air taxis driving on their own. As a mobility expert, how do you project this plan will go? Is this a feasible goal?
What's the technology behind operating these drone or air taxis? And what kind of infrastructure is needed to support its operation? The ministry plans to establish "vertiports" or landing hubs in the capital, but how is our infrastructure in Seoul for establishing these hubs?
They say these air taxis will fly at an altitude of 300 to 600 meters and passengers will be able to reach their destinations three times faster than they would using conventional vehicles. Are there any safety issues we should be concerned about?
So we can imagine, when we have these air or drone taxis commercialized, there will be some significant noise. How is the noise level of these aircrafts? Also, will there be any congestion in the sky?
What are some developments underway among Korean companies for these urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles? What's the situation overseas?
Meanwhile, Amazon also made an announcement this week - its launch of Astro, the first household robot to be powered by Alexa smart home technology. It will be pretty helpful for many people to remotely control these little ones to guard the home and check on pets, people, or home security, especially those who have elderly at home.
The price is quite competitive (1,000 USD) so we can expect many people to have these in their homes when the product is available. How will these robots be used at home? And what about privacy concerns?
That was professor Hyunchul SHIM from KAIST Future Mobility Research Institute for us. Thank you for your insights.