SEOUL -- South Korea's major mobile carrier SK Telecom has expanded its partnership with Joby Aviation, an American all-electric commercial passenger aircraft company, through an equity investment of $100 million. The two companies will work together to develop technology and infrastructure for urban air mobility services, also known as flying taxi services.
Joby Aviation is a United States venture-backed aviation company that specializes in urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles. The company founded in 2009 forged a partnership with SK Telecom (SKT) in February 2022 to work together in the global UAM sector. TMAP, a South Korean vehicle navigation service operator, joined the partnership in March 2022. TMAP has more than 20 years of transportation and mapping data.
SKT said that the company invested $100 million in Joby, acquiring a two percent stake in the UAM technology company through the new share acquisition. Through the investment, SKT will be able to exclusively operate Joby's aircraft in South Korea. Joby's S4 electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) is a five-seater taxi aircraft with six tilting rotors capable of reaching a maximum speed of 322 kilometers (200 miles) per hour and a maximum flight distance of 241 kilometers.
Currently, SKT is participating in a government-led UAM project called "K-UAM" and the mobile carrier will utilize Joby S4 taxis through the demonstration and after the project is commercialized. The UAM project led by South Korea's transport ministry is expected to be commercialized by 2025. SKT and Joby would also collaborate in global marketing of the two companies' UAM technology and services.
The South Korean UAM project will be kicked off in August 2024 through a four-month demonstration in the southern county of Goheung. Demonstrations in urban environments will take place in 2024 and 2025 before commercialization.
"Our partnership with SKT places Joby in the best possible position to capitalize on the opportunity presented by the Korean market, where we continue to see a strong drive from the government to realize aerial ridesharing," JoeBen Bervit, Joby Aviation's founder and CEO, said in a statement on June 30.
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