South Korea tests meal delivery by autonomous drones

One of South Korea’s leading oil refiners, GS Caltex demonstrated a drone delivery service at its Jeju gas station, the country’s famous resort south of Busan.


A contactless delivery.

The drones took off from the company’s gas station in Jeju with their lunch boxes to within a kilometer. One left to deliver a primary school about 750 meters away, the other to a guesthouse 1.3 kilometers away.


Each delivery took about five minutes: the drones were piloted with autonomous control based on a global positioning system, according to GS Caltex. If it obtains government approval, GS Caltex plans to commercially launch the delivery through UAVs.

Last mile logistics.

Customers will be able to place orders for basic necessities through the convenience store chain’s GS25ms mobile application and have the items delivered by drone.

GS Caltex service stations will serve as last-mile logistics centres for UAV delivery services, » said a GS Caltex manager. « We will continue to monitor the commercial viability of the company. » He added that GS Caltex’s national sales network and its partnership with GS25 would be ideal to accelerate the adoption of new delivery services.

A hesitant government.

South Korea has been reluctant to allow companies to use drones because the country – which is still technically at war with North Korea – is suspicious of aerial objects. However, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be causing the Seoul administration to reconsider its impression of drones, which could help stem the virus by reducing human contact.

Actually, the GS Caltex delivery drones are part of a government project. In fact, officials from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy attended the Jeju demonstration. In fact, the government plans to inject about $15 million to set up platforms for UAV logistics by 2022, so that up to 22 service stations can make deliveries by UAV.