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SKT, Joby Aviation Collaborate on S. Korean UAM Testing

Source: SK Telecom

Seoul, South Korea - SK Telecom (NYSE: SKM) and Joby Aviation (NYSE: JOBY) have joined forces to promote the development of urban air mobility (UAM) in South Korea.

Why it matters:

This agreement follows SK Telecom's strategic investment of $100 million in Joby Aviation in June. The agreement outlines the initial roadmap for the project between the two companies.

The Key Points

  • Focus on flight testing and commercialization: The collaboration aims to leverage both companies' strengths in flight testing. SKT and Joby are part of the K-UAM Dream Team Consortium, a multi-company alliance established in February 2023 that includes Korea Airports Corporation and Hanwha Systems.
  • The first phase of the Grand Challenge program, designed by Korea's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT), will take place at a national flight site in Goheung, Jeollanam-do. The tests will evaluate the integrated UAM system's functioning and the aircraft's acoustic imprint.
  • Financial investment and market positioning: This collaboration follows SK Telecom's $100 million strategic investment in Joby Aviation in June 2023. The agreement secures exclusive rights for Joby's aircraft in the Grand Challenge and positions SKT as a potential market leader in the emerging UAM sector. MOLIT targets UAM commercialization by 2025, adding urgency to the consortium's efforts.
  • AI's role in UAM: SK Telecom plans to align its UAM operations with its AI-driven vision, aiming for AI to play a transformative role in reducing travel times and enabling autonomous flights. This aligns with the broader industry outlook, which expects AI to shape the future of aviation and mobility significantly.

What they say:

Eric Allison, Head of Product at Joby Aviation, noted that the collaboration is a "critical step" in making air ridesharing commonplace in South Korea.

Ha Min-yong, Chief Development Officer of SKT, emphasized that the partnership aims to usher in an era of "AI mobility" by fusing UAM and AI technologies.