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South Korean Gov’t To Spend Big On Development Of Unmanned Vehicles

By February 13, 2017 at 7:06 am
Currently, South Korea relies heavily on imports for core equipment like radar and cameras. (Photo : Getty Images)

As part of South Korea's five-year master plan to develop the domestic unmanned vehicle industry, the government will invest a total of 54.5 billion won, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said Monday.

Under the long-term plan, the government will focus its efforts on the development of self-driving cars, agricultural machines, drones and unmanned ships by 2021, according to the science ministry.

The project, which was approved by the National Science & Technology Council, aims to help streamline state-led research and development programs that are underperforming. 

To emphasize its importance, the ministry designated the sector as among the key strategic industries in the "fourth industrial revolution", characterized by fast-paced industrial transformation.

Last year, the worldwide unmanned vehicle market was valued at US$24.8 billion. Annual growth rate in the industry is projected to be at an average of 22 percent to US$67.3 billion in 2020, the ministry said.

The ministry plans to spend another 14.5 billion won on nurturing the technology to manage unmanned vehicles, which includes the technology for monitoring planes flying at low altitudes as well as unmanned drones.

In terms of drone technology, South Korea is said to rank seventh in the world, although it relies mostly on imported products for its core equipment requirements. Among the items that are highly dependent on imports include radar and cameras.

he government's mid-term strategy is to develop "common and combined platform" technologies.
The mid-term plan, however, will take two years longer than what was originally announced by the ministry in 2016, officials said.

South Korea has so far pursued a separate development of maritime, air and land unmanned vehicles, which are more costly and time consuming. 

The government said last year that it will spend 89 billion won into the smart car sector this year, an increase of 43.8 percent from 62 billion in 2016. 

It also said then that it will invest 54.2 billion to develop high-end drones this year from 41.7 billion in 2016, up by 30 percent.

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