Drones biz takes off in South Korea with its TR-60

South Korea's tilt rotor TR-60 can fly 40,000 feet into the air, carry a payload of 110 pounds and go over 300mpr
South Korea’s tilt rotor TR-60 can fly 40,000 feet into the air, carry a payload of 110 pounds and go over 300mpr

Techno Korea is doing drones now in a big way. The country’s TR-60 can fly 40,000 feet into the air, carry 110 pounds and go over 300 miles per hour.

South Korea is looking to get into the UAV business and its prized product looks like its 300 mph ‘Tilt Rotor’ drone, the TR-60.

 The TR-60 can fly about eight miles in the air and stay aloft for about six hours.  It can be used for a variety of civilian and military purposes, including surveillance, search and rescue, and other missions.

Its big feature is that the TR-60 can go ridiculously fast, up to 310 mph. It can also fly up to six hours at those speeds and carry a payload of about 110 pounds, enoug for some serious video and photo equipment. So, it looks like it is meant for serious surveillance.

From Seoul to Pyongyang, with love,  I guess.

It’s pretty high-tech, though. It takes off vertically like a helicopter, and then rotates its two props to fly like an airplane. It can ascend into the stratosphere, some 40,000 feet above the surface of the Earth. Impressive, right?

It is a show piece of a drone for South Korea, because the country is known for high tech and so it had to do something a little sophisticated to make good on that reputation. The country is just getting into the UAV business. But the TR-60 proves that Asia’s third-largest economy can do drones in a big way.

It was developed by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) at a cost of $91 million and first got local press earlier this year, around in April.  Commercialization is still in the planning stages and, according to local press reports, won’t go on sale until 2023. So, why did KARI do the media rounds in April? Beats me.

You know Seoul is serious about getting into the commercial UAV business because the country’s Transportation Ministry recently revamped its regulations on testing experimental drones in September (this month).

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation will create special airspace in five areas for night time, high altitude drone flights by next month (October). This move is for civilian use. So, not just military stuff, but for all manner of new drones. The ministry will also permit five corporations that can get into the UAV business.

Proposed civilian uses include deliveries, advertisements, games and safety and land inspections. Right now, the only business activities allowed are forestry, agriculture and surveying.

Basically, in South Korea, hobbyists do not play around with drones. It is the purview of big chaebol and big government.

In 2013, 238 UAVs weighing less than 150 kg were registered. In 2014, 364 were registered.  As of July of this year (2015), 716 were registered.

Civilians must get special permission from the government to play around with anything weighting 12 kg and up. There is talk of easing up on the high school kid in street to let him use one 25 kg and up.

All drones 12 kg and more must registered regardless, but the government will tighten rules. Soon, anything 5 kg and heavier must be registered with the authorities.

In 2013, 116 businesses were registered as UAV-users. As of July of this year, the number of businesses with registered drones increased to 466. And those with licenses increased to 850 from 64  over the past two and half years.

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