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Drone delivery service kicks off to deliver items to ships near Busan Port

Employees launch a drone to deliver items to ships near Busan Port. (Marine Drone Tech)
Employees launch a drone to deliver items to ships near Busan Port. (Marine Drone Tech)

While the COVID-19 pandemic has impeded the transfer of goods via ship, with stricter rules to limit the number of crew members boarding and coming ashore, a small South Korean venture company is offering a new kind of delivery service using drones.

Marine Drone Tech, a drone logistics company based in Busan, is the first company in Korea to officially register a maritime drone delivery service. It received its business registration certificate from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport last week.

Established by the Marine Venture Development Center under the Korea Marine and Ocean University in September 2018, Marine Drone Tech has until now focused on research and development for drones flying above the sea, and for delivery services.

The company said it has conducted several tests and has successfully delivered light items -- such as cellphone USIM cards, medicines and masks -- to ships within about 2 kilometers of Busan Port.

The company said its delivery service reduced the delivery time to five minutes, from what would have been about 40 minutes had the items been delivered by ship.

The Busan Regional Office of Aviation said it had run its own delivery tests three times to validate the service.

The company is led by Hwang In-cheol, a former military chopper pilot who has participated in maritime operations, and has three sea experts.

The company is currently establishing an app to take delivery orders and aims to officially launch the paid delivery service around the end of March.

“We will work to further develop smart drone delivery technology and strengthen stability,” Hwang said.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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