While online shopping was already very popular in South Korea, it has become even more so as people stay home more during the pandemic. Several robotic delivery services have launched around the city, such as 7-Eleven using the Neubie robot by Neubility, the GS25 convenience store using LG’s CLOi ServeBot, and the Baemin food delivery service using the Delidrive robot.
Love it or hate it, in the dense population of big cities like Seoul the vast majority of people live in apartment complexes. This lends itself well to these robot delivery projects. In fact, many of these pilot projects are only available in one apartment complex, which can consist of ten to twenty 15+ story buildings. Training your robot to navigate the sidewalks, operating the doors, calling the elevators, and buzzing the customer’s home intercom is an easier task when dealing with only one campus.
Some projects are more ambitious, like another Neubility system operating on the Yonsei University Songdo City campus. You can order fried chicken and have it delivered by a Neubie robot, which comes to your address along the sidewalk at a brisk 5 to 6 km/h. There are some issues, however. First of all, government regulations haven’t quite kept up with the technology. These services are basically operating case-by-case, temporary waiver basis. They are not allowed to operate on the streets, and when driving on the sidewalks they have to avoid bumping into people.
We wrote about a prototype RC truck delivery system last year, and covered Amazon drones and Automating Freight Delivery as well. These all show promise, but are not mainstream yet. The vast majority of your orders are still delivered by a person. Will these automated delivery services eventually replace humans? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.