The Korea Herald


Korea targets drone, bot deliveries by 2027

Transport Ministry to speed up legislative measures for “one-hour” nationwide delivery services

By Lee Yoon-seo

Published : Feb. 20, 2023 - 17:40

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A box of fried chicken is delivered by a drone during a pilot flight carried out by local chicken franchise Kyochon F&B in Seoul, in December 2022. (Kyochon F&B) A box of fried chicken is delivered by a drone during a pilot flight carried out by local chicken franchise Kyochon F&B in Seoul, in December 2022. (Kyochon F&B)

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Monday unveiled a slew of long-term plans to establish smart logistics infrastructure across the country, which will enable one-hour delivery services using drones and artificial intelligence.

The government said it first plans on commercializing robot deliveries by 2026 and drone deliveries by 2027.

"We will support the development of technologies to commercialize unmanned deliveries, and create a test bed made exclusively for the practice of robot and drone parcel deliveries (for private companies)," an official from the Land Ministry said in a press release.

The official added that in a bid to realistically carry out unmanned deliveries, it will incrementally lay out legislative foundations such as establishing safety standards for drone deliveries.

Micro-fulfillment centers, or MFCs, will also be given construction permits at key locations in major cities across the country, with the goal of dramatically reducing delivery times.

The government aims to open an era where deliveries can be made within 30 minutes to 1 hour with the MFCs, the ministry said.

MFCs are facilities that predict order demand and manage inventory with the use of artificial intelligence and big data, to initiate deliveries as soon as an order is made.

The Smart Logistics Development Council, a tentatively titled public-private consultation body, will comprise of companies from various fields, such as logistics, platforms and IT.

The consultation body will be formed in the first half of this year in order to accelerate the discovery of optimal commercialization models for unmanned deliveries.

Furthermore, pilot zones where self-driving trucks can navigate will be designated this year.

The ministry said it also has plans to establish underground logistics and transportation systems using urban railways by 2027.

The government further noted that it is planning on giving tax cuts to private companies that manage to develop technology which can transport cargo sensitive to temperature and humidity over long distances.

At airports, smart air cargo operation systems will be established.

Existing cargo terminals will be converted into smart terminals that utilize self-driving vehicles, and wearable equipment will be given to employees working at the smart terminals.

In order to create an international logistics hub, a "national smart logistics platform system" will be introduced. The system will relax regulations by authorizing special logistics promotion zones and aim to establish various logistics and manufacturing facilities.

The Land Ministry will also create an integrated platform for collecting data concerning logistics.

The ministry said it will integrate scattered logistics data such as information on domestic and foreign shipment volumes; on logistics warehouses; and on imports and exports. The collected data will be disclosed to the private sector so that companies can use it.

The cargo vehicle safety management monitoring system, which collects and analyzes data regarding the speed and traveling distance of cargo trucks through real-time monitoring of location information, will also be established by 2027.

With the recent advancement of innovative technologies such as ICT and AI, digital transformation is also accelerating in the logistics industry, and the government aims to greatly increase Koreans' quality of life by implementing a futuristic logistics service early on, according to the ministry.

The new plan will help Korean companies lead the new global logistics market by supporting the private sector's technology developments and implementing drastic regulatory relaxations for Korean logistics businesses, the ministry added.