Hyundai Heavy and Naver forge alliance to develop autonomous service robot

By Park Sae-jin Posted : May 28, 2018, 16:49 Updated : May 28, 2018, 16:49

M1 (left) and AROUND (right). [Courtesy of Naver Labs]

SEOUL -- The holding company of South Korea's Hyundai shipbuilding group forged an alliance with Naver Labs, an AI-developing wing of the country's largest web portal Naver, to develop service robots capable of creating three-dimensional maps and provide directions to people.

Service robots which guide and help shoppers are forming a new market in South Korea. This month, Shinsegae's hypermarket wing adopted artificially intelligent robots at its flagship store in Seoul to help customers. At Incheon International Airport, South Korea's main gateway, autonomous robots roam freely, diligently seeking travelers who are in need of directions.

Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings, which has an industrial robot division, Naver Labs said in a joint statement on Monday that they signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate for the development and distribution of AI service robots.

"With Hyundai Heavy's cooperation, we can establish a stable foundation for the development and manufacturing of service robots," a Naver Labs official said in the statement, adding the AI development company would seek the early commercialization of life-related robots probably by the end of this year.

Naver Labs will take charge of the development of a service robot system and software while Hyundai Heavy will manufacture and sell two robots -- M1 and AROUND. M1 uses multiple sensors to draw three-dimensional maps inside a building. AROUND, which pulls heavy loads, was tested at a large bookstore in the southern city of Busan earlier this year.

M1 and AROUND work as partners at airports, shopping complexes, gas stations and hotels. Hyundai Heavy said robots would be manufactured in a plant in Daegu some 238 kilometers (147 miles) southwest of Seoul. According to Markets and Markets, a U.S.-based market research company, the global market for service robots will reach $23.9 billion by 2022.
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