Innovation

Korean Food Delivery Platform Debuts Robot Waiters

LG Electronics

If restaurants, bars and cafes come roaring back after months of being shuttered worldwide, LG Electronics could be one of the big winners.

The South Korean global electronics company headquartered in Seoul has partnered with online food delivery platform operator Woowa Brothers and the Korea Institute for Robot Industry Advancement (KIRIA), an incubator for robot startups, to develop robot waiters, LG announced Friday (June 12).

“LG, which has shown a strong interest in the robot business, will develop both hardware and software for the serving robots,” LG told the Korea Times in a statement. “Woowa Brothers will also join the development process, providing the technological knowhow they have built by operating the rental robot business.”

Under the agreement, LG, which had global sales of $53 billion last year, and Woowa will create the specialized serving robots and lease them through Woowa Brothers’ robot rental business.

Today, the company has 85 robots operating in 68 restaurants across the country, the report said.

Woowa operates Baedal Minjok, also known as Baemin, an online food delivery platform and handles more than 30 million orders monthly.

LG, Woowa and KIRIA say the partnership will advance the nation’s robot business, which has been an increasingly promising sector as the world reboots following the coronavirus pandemic.

KIRIA has said while Korea lags China, Japan, the U.S. and Europe in terms of software and hardware, the country’s robot industry has a rosy outlook. To become a strong player, the country needs more than 30,000 robots in the next decade.

The International Federation of Robotics has predicted an annual growth rate of 17 percent for manufacturing robots worldwide and for service robots to reach a combined market size of $45.7 billion by year’s end.

LG, which is best known for manufacturing a wide range of products from TVs, washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioners, mobile devices, digitals and auto parts, has been developing robots. They are used for a variety of purposes including assisting passengers at, cleaning and lawn mowing.

“By developing locally specialized robots and increasing utilization of the serving robots, we will be able to improve our competitiveness,” Roh Jin-seo, head of LG’s robot business, told the newspaper.

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