The South Korean government Friday unveiled plans to ease regulations on drones and self-driving cars, paving the way for the futuristic technologies to spur related industries.
The plans were given in a brief when President Park Geun-hye presided over the fourth regulatory reform ministerial meeting at Cheong Wa Dae.
“Deregulation is crucial to secure our future growth engines and to revitalize the economy,” said the president, calling for parliamentary support for the passage of related bills at the National Assembly.
According to the deregulatory measures, the government will start a pilot program allowing drones to fly high, even at night, above four sites in the nation from December.
A total of 15 consortia, consisting of big companies such as Korean Air, KT and CJ, have been selected to conduct the program that aims to verify the safety of drones in use for land surveillance, safety inspection and package delivery purposes.
The government also plans to seek a law revision to start test-driving driverless cars from February next year.
Last month, the government designated a combined 361 kilometers of both expressways and ordinary roads around the Seoul area for testing.
Other than drones and self-driving cars, the government picked an additional six technologies for the deregulation drive -- the Internet of Things, 3-D printing, smart home solutions, carbon fibers, solar power modules and electric boilers.
These technologies are widely considered next growth engine businesses, but their markets are still too nascent for related smaller firms to pursue research and development support from the government.
The government said it will expand support for those small tech firms with growth potential.
It will become easier for the new technology to be certified.
The government is also considering offering temporary approval for up to two years so that companies can secure clients even before the final approval.
Following the deregulation meeting Friday, for instance, the Health Ministry decided to speed up certification of medical equipment.
Currently, it takes up to 280 days for a new medical equipment to get safety approval. The ministry plans to reduce the process to 140 days for about half the total equipment tested, particularly testing equipment used outside the body.
Bio medicines such as stem cell and gene treatments can be applied to urgent patients even before being approved. Based on EU cases, the new medicines could be used without approval at some authorized hospitals.
“Amid technological convergence across industries recently, the nation’s old regulations are hindering business activities. We need to upgrade our regulations to meet global standards,” the president said.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org)