S. Korea to nurture logistics sector for establishment of quick delivery infrastructure through drones and robots

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : February 21, 2023, 16:29 Updated : February 22, 2023, 08:10

[Yonhap News Photo]

SEOUL -- To establish a same-day delivery infrastructure nationwide, South Korea's transport ministry unveiled its plan to commercialize robot delivery by 2026 and drone delivery by 2027. The country will assist the logistics industry's digital transformation and lift regulations regarding building logistics centers in urban areas. Currently, most logistics centers are located in suburban regions.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said in a press release on February 20 that it would allow businesses to run micro-fulfillment centers (MFCs) in urban areas to realize quick delivery which takes about 30 minutes to one hour. The small-sized logistics centers optimized for urban environments only require a small piece of land for a tiny warehouse. Artificial intelligence (AI) will be adopted to improve work efficiency.
The ministry would support technology development and demonstration of private companies for early commercialization of unmanned delivery. Through digital transformation projects, outdated warehouses will be recreated into brand-new AI-based distribution centers. 
"We will do our best to enable people to live a more convenient life and help the national economy grow and step forward through new innovations in the logistics sector," Transport Minister Won Hee-ryong said.
However, some people are worried about safety accidents caused by drones and robots. "The ministry is so deplorable," user-po4fn8yo2x, a YouTube user said, adding that the transport ministry should place importance on public safety. It has also been difficult to freely test self-driving robots as filming pedestrians is considered a violation of privacy.
Many domestic companies have worked hard to handle regulations regarding self-driving robot services. In October 2022, autonomous robot startup Neubility teamed up with Dongbu Insurance, a major domestic insurance company, to launch insurance services for accidents caused by self-driving robots. In case of personal injuries, up to 180 million won ($138,835) will be provided, and 1 billion won for property damage.
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