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Korean Tech Firm Naver Aims to Expand Use of Its Robots 

South Korea’s Naver reportedly wants to export its 5G-based cloud robotics technology to new countries.

The Seoul-based company makes service robots dubbed Rookies, the subject of a Tuesday (Dec. 26) report by the Financial Times (FT).

That report said that the company has been working on integrating these robots into its offices, where they carry out tasks like delivering meals and packages, with the hope of exporting the technology to other countries amid interest in Japan, Saudi Arabia and parts of Europe.

“There are not many companies globally who can offer this high-quality robot service at this scale,” Seok Sang-ok, CEO of Naver Labs, Naver’s research and development arm, told the FT.

“This requires a lot of seamless cooperation with many of our affiliates. Naver’s wide-ranging services, including search engines, online shopping and social networking, have allowed us to experiment with various robot technologies and services, all in-house.”

The report notes that Naver — like Amazon — has both an eCommerce and cloud business, spending roughly a quarter of sales on research and development into things like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and autonomous driving.

According to the FT, the same digital twin technology Naver uses to make 3D scans of cities and buildings helps its robots recognize their surroundings and plot their routes. The robots use a normal video camera with no advanced processors and navigation tools, thus lowering their production costs, Naver said.

“We’ve tested the robots for more than a year and now have a lot of data on human interaction with robots,” Seok said. “We’ll focus on exporting IT services, as I believe our robotics technology using the cloud will become much better in two to three years.”

Naver’s ambitions come at the end of a year that has seen increased interest in automation in a number of sectors.

For example, AI-driven automation company GreyOrange raised $135 million in a Series D funding round last week to expand its fulfillment orchestration platform in warehouses, distribution centers and retail stores.

“Not only has GreyOrange automated the movement of goods within the warehouse, but the company has also built a network that optimizes how retailers move their goods across their entire supply chain,” said Vusal Najafov, whose Anthelion Capital led the round.

This year has also seen the food service industry increasingly adopt robotics into its operation, even though diners still show some hesitancy toward the trend.

The PYMNTS Intelligence exclusive report “Connected Dining: The Robot Will Take Your Order Now” reveals that just 33% of men and half that share of women expressed interest in visiting a restaurant that uses robotics. Leading consumers’ concerns are the quality and accuracy of the food, along with worries about automation displacing human employees.