|LG Electronics' CLOi ServeBot brings food to customers at a restaurant in Seoul, Jan. 31. LG signed a partnership Friday with online food delivery platform operator Woowa Brothers and the Korea Institute for Robot Industry Advancement to develop serving robots.|
By Baek Byung-yeul
LG Electronics has forged a partnership with online food delivery platform operator Woowa Brothers and the Korea Institute for Robot Industry Advancement (KIRIA) to co-develop robots that can be used to serve in restaurants, the electronics company said Friday.
The tech company and Woowa Brothers have joined a project chaired by KIRIA, a Daegu-based state-run agency that supervises Korea's robot industry, to develop robot waiters and related technologies.
Under the agreement, LG and Woowa Brothers will develop specialized serving robots by November that will then be available for rent through Woowa Brothers' robot rental business. Woowa Brothers operates the country's top online food delivery platform Baedal Minjok, also known as Baemin. The company currently has 85 serving robots operating at 68 restaurants across the country.
"LG, which has shown a strong interest in the robot business, will develop both hardware and software for the serving robots," an LG official said. "Woowa Brothers will also join the development process, providing the technological knowhow they have built by operating the rental robot business."
They said the partnership will help nurture the country's robot business, which has been increasingly recognized as a promising sector in post-coronavirus times.
"By adopting serving robots, we expect there will be an improvement in the working environment of employees in restaurants," KIRIA President Moon Jeon-il said. "As we are living in the post-COVID-19 world, we hope serving robots, which are a kind of contactless service, will be able to help restaurant owners, employees and customers."
LG Electronics has been developing robots for a range of purposes such as providing assistance at airports, cleaning, lawn mowing and a robotic exoskeleton that supports and enhances the human body.
LG also has partnered with Woowa Brothers since February, inking an agreement to co-develop robots used for food delivery and serving in restaurants, combining LG's artificial intelligence and indoor self-driving technologies with Woowa Brothers' knowledge of operating an online food delivery platform and robot rental business.
The LG official said the serving robots that will be used in Woowa Brothers' robot rental business will not be titled LG CLOi, the company's signature robot product brand.
"By developing locally specialized robots and increasing utilization of the serving robots, we will be able to improve our competitiveness," said Roh Jin-seo, head of LG's robot business.