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Autonomous drones demo lunchbox delivery in South Korea

By
Kim Yi-hyun, UPI News Korea
This concept image shows GS Caltex’s logistics based on the company’s gas station for drone delivery services. Image courtesy of GS Caltex
This concept image shows GS Caltex’s logistics based on the company’s gas station for drone delivery services. Image courtesy of GS Caltex

SEOUL, June 9 (UPI) -- South Korean oil refiner GS Caltex showed off a drone delivery service at its gas station in Jeju, the country's famous beach resort island south of Busan.

With lunchboxes in tow, the drones took off at the company's gas station in Jeju, flying less than a mile to a nearby elementary school and a guest house.

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Each delivery took about five minutes, and the drones were flown with an autonomous control based on a global positioning system, according to GS Caltex.

If it wins government approval, GS Caltex plans to commercially launch delivery through the unmanned, flying vehicles.

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Customers will be able to place orders for necessities through the convenience store chain GS25 mobile app and have the items delivered by drone.

"Gas stations of GS Caltex will act as last-mile logistics hubs of drone-based delivery services," a GS Caltex official told UPI News Korea. "We will continue to check the business' commercial viability."

The official added that GS Caltex's nationwide sales network and its partnership with GS25 would be ideal for accelerating the adoption of new delivery services.

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South Korea has been reluctant to allow businesses to use drones because the country -- which is still technically at war with North Korea -- is wary of airborne objects.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be making the Seoul administration reconsider its impression of drones, which could help stifle the virus from further spreading by reducing human contact.

In fact, GS Caltex's delivery drones are a part of a government-led project, and officials of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy took part in the Jeju demonstration.

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The ministry plans to inject around $15 million to set up platforms for drone logistics by 2022 so that up to 22 gas stations will be able to conduct drone delivery.

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