With social distancing playing a new and crucial role in our societies, the restaurant industry will need to adapt to the changes. On the one hand, this could mean reduced tables and increased prices. That's not going to end well for either diner or restaurant. However that may not need to happen as LG Electronics has recently teamed up with the Korea Institute for Robot Industry Advancement (KIRIA), and the online food delivery app Woowa Brothers to create and develop robot waiters.
You probably have heard about LG Electronics, as most of us have used on their appliances, including TVs, refrigerators, auto parts, and air conditioners. But did you know they also develop robots? We didn't know either.
Could LG Electronics come out as the real winners? The answer is yes. As LG told the Korean Times, "LG, which has shown a strong interest in the robot business, will develop both hardware and software for the serving robots. Woowa Brothers will also join the development process, providing the technological know-how they have built by operating the rental robot business."
KIRIA has stated that though Korea is behind China, Europe, and the U.S.A when it comes to Softwares and hardware, their robotic industry is looking as though it's about to bloom. The International Federation of Robotics has estimated annual growth of 17 percent for the manufacturing of robots worldwide. Not to mention when they add on top the manufacturing of service robots, and the combined market size will end up around $45.7 billion by the end of the year.
Under the agreement formed between the companies, LG and Woowz Brothers will focus on developed specialized robots to serve in restaurants. It's expected by November, these robots will be available for rent through Woowza Brothers' robot rental business. The Woowa Brothers company operates Korea's top online food delivery platform Baedal Minjok. And as of today, the company has 85 robots for serving diner over 68 restaurants across the country.
This partnership comes at the perfect time for LG Electronics as the world is finding new ways to maintain a regular life under social distancing regulations. Of course, consumers still want the ability to dine at restaurants, yet restaurants are struggling to comply with regulations while still turning a profit during post-coronavirus times.
The KIRIA President Moon Jeon-il said, "By adopting serving robots, we expect there will be an improvement in the working environment of employees in restaurants. As we are living in the post-COVID-19 world, we hope serving robots, which are a kind of contactless service, will be able to help restaurant owners, employees, and customers."
Since now, LG Electronics has been creating robots for a variety of sectors, including robotic exoskeletons designed to support the human body. But now, they've found a new opportunity and one that may become a global phenomenon. And the partnership between Woowa Brothers and LG Electronics is well-planned as LG specializes in artificial intelligence, and Woowza Brothers' has unlimited knowledge of the food delivery sector. In other words, it's a match made in heaven.
"By developing locally specialized robots and increasing utilization of the serving robots, we will be able to improve our competitiveness," said Roh Jin-Seo, head of LG's robot business.