March 15, 2018 12:51
Woowa Brothers, which operates a mobile app for food-delivery services, has developed a self-driving delivery robot. The robot will start dropping off meals indoors on a trial basis as early as May, with the service gradually expanding to outside deliveries.
"Dilly," coined from the words "delicious" and "delivery" was developed jointly with Korea University professor Chung Woo-jin. It looks like a vacuum cleaner at 70 to 80 cm tall and rounded with three compartments, scurrying about on little wheels once the destination has been punched in.
It is equipped with software that helps it determine its location and detect obstacles. It can travel at the same speed as a human walking or about 4 km/h.
The robot will undergo a three-stage test before the actual run, with the first trial service starting in a food court in May where Dilly will serve meals and collect trays. It will then start working on university campuses and in apartment complexes in the second half of this year.
Ryu Jin at Woowa Brothers said, "We will continue fixing problems detected in the trial runs with the goal of having the robot actually deliver food within two or three years." But actual deployment could take longer.
Woowa Brothers developed the robot to assist human delivery staff but plans to expand its uses to delivering shopping and newspapers.
Start-ups overseas are also developing delivery robots. One of the best known is the U.K.'s Starship Technologies, which has already completed more than 100,000 km of delivery runs of self-driving vehicles in more than 100 cities around the world, transporting pizza, groceries and mail.
The progress of the delivery can be monitored on the app in real time, just like a Uber driver. The delivery compartments cannot be opened until the customer types in his or her unique code. Another robot called "Yape," which was developed by an Italian start-up, verifies customers by facial-recognition technology.
Eulji University Hospital in Daejeon recently began using a similar robot developed by a Korean start-up to ferry urine and blood samples around. The robot is linked to the hospital's computer network and can remotely access elevators in the building. A hospital staffer said, "We plan to use it to bring medication to patients and transport items to quarantine wards."
Lee Kwang-hyung at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, said "Using robots will enable people to focus on more productive work and improve working conditions."
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