COVID-19 pandemic expands introduction of Woowa's food serving robot

By Lim Chang-won Posted : May 31, 2021, 10:37 Updated : May 31, 2021, 10:37

[Courtesy of Woowa Brothers]

SEOUL -- Woowa Brothers, the operator of South Korea's top food delivery service, took a step closer to popularizing serving robots that deliver food to the table of customers at restaurants by securing a new deal with a domestic food chain to provide about 100 robots. Woowa's serving robot called "Dilly Plate" can take evasive action when it approaches a customer or obstacles.

Shinhwa Food Group (SFG), which operates 20 Korean food brands at 110 direct outlets, agreed to introduce Dilly Plate gradually by the year's end. "We decided to expand the introduction of serving robots to reduce the workload of employees and provide meticulous services to customers," an unnamed SFG official said in a statement on May 31.

Woowa has tried to attract clients with a rental program and customized services. Five different Dilly Plate models have been deployed at 305 restaurants nationwide to create an environment where restaurants can concentrate on improving services and increasing the efficiency of operation. The deal with SFG was the biggest of its kind.

Woowa said food serving robots are drawing a positive response from customers and cost-conscious store operators at a time when a COVID-19 pandemic created a new social trend of non-contact or non-face-to-face. "Starting with serving robots, we will introduce smart restaurant services with various artificial intelligence technologies such as cooking robots and packaging solutions," Woowa's robot business head Kim Yo-seob said.

In 2019, Dennis Hong, a prominent Korean-American roboticist and professor at the University of California joined hands with Woowa to develop robots capable of carrying out various tasks for cooking. The project aims to create a "cook-only" robot and develop it to a level that can be used in restaurants, food manufacturing facilities and even in homes and offices for personal use.

Woowa has focused on the development of serving and food delivery robots that have been deployed in controlled environments. An intelligent delivery robot capable of traveling between floors through elevators has been tested at commercial buildings. The company aims to commercialize delivery robots that can travel through crowded urban streets and react sensitively to the movements of automobiles, bicycles, children and pet dogs.
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