By Kim Boram
SEOUL, July 9 (Yonhap) -- The 1997 sci-fi movie "The Fifth Element" features a futuristic city filled with flying cars zooming in and out of the gaps between buildings hundreds of meters above the ground.
Some 26 years later, things have developed enough that it is feasible for people to think the world is approaching such a scene.
Many cities have plans to operate urban air mobility systems to use small, highly automated aircraft that carry passengers or cargo at lower altitudes in urban areas.
South Korea's startup CLROBUR, founded in 2019, stands out with its 3D map-based urban air traffic management (UATM) platform, DROW, which controls and monitors the passage and transportation of unmanned aerial vehicles that are remote-controlled or flown autonomously.
"For manned aircraft, like passenger airplanes, air traffic management controls the airspace, organizing the flow of air traffic and providing information and other support to pilots," Choi Tae-in, founder and CEO of CLROBUR founded in 2019, said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency.
"A similar management system is needed for unmanned aircraft at lower altitudes, and each country is working on setting up their own standards for UATM."
He said DROW, a combination of drone and draw, simultaneously supports the autonomous operation of multiple drones, using cloud-based artificial intelligence technology. The platform won innovation awards for three years straight from 2021 at the International Consumer Electronics Show.
Drones are commercially useful in many areas, such as agriculture, construction, firefighting, search and rescue, deliver, industrial inspection and broadcasting, while some play a major role in the military as spy or reconnaissance vehicles used during wartime.
In the coming future, an infinite number of autonomous flights will be moving through the air and an integrated control system will be necessary to prevent possible collisions and expedite the passage of the aircraft, noted Choi.
"We draw the roads for flying unmanned objects like drones and air taxis on a 3D map and create a system to control traffic," he said. "DROW also has separate modules that can control the traffic of manned aircraft and other moving objects like buses, taxis, robots, submarines or kick boards and is able to integrate the control system."
At the same time, CLROBUR also offers services to design programs to operate indoor and outdoor mini-drones for businesses and local governments, including Goheung County and Yeongwol County.
In partnership with South Chungcheong Province, the company demonstrated its liquid hydrogen-fueled drones, monitoring the region's coastlines and delivering emergency goods to remote islands via drone.
CLROBUR also joined hands with the Seoul Metropolitan Government to run the "SkyPic" service, allowing people to take free-of-charge aerial photos at key tourist attractions like Seoul Forest Park and Hangang riverside parks.
Now, the company eyes the fast-growing global drone service market, which is expected to expand to US$10 billion in 2023 from $2.7 billion in 2018.
"We are in talks to work with an Indonesian company," said the businessperson. "We will be considering setting up an office in the United States in the near future."
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