SEOUL -- Dilly Tower, an autonomous service robot capable of traveling between floors, has been put into test operation in a high-rise building equipped with elevators. Developers will push for commercialization after trial services at hotels and other places in the second half of this year.
The test operation at the Seoul head office of Woowa Brothers, the operator of South Korea's top food delivery service app Baedal Minjok, will end on May 29. Woowa said Dilly Tower had delivered 255 drinks with no errors through a pilot service on May 11-15.
The service robot can call the elevator on its own and use a pre-set route to deliver drinks or snacks from an in-house cafe on the 18th floor of the building. Linked to the cafe's order reception system, orders are displayed on the screen at the top of the robot.
Woowa has developed robots for restaurants and self-driving food delivery vehicles. The final goal is to produce robots capable of roaming freely through the crowded urban streets. However, the development of delivery robots has been slow because they are not useful in real life in a country where many city dwellers live in high-rise apartment buildings. The salient challenge is elevators.
Dilly Tower, linked to automatic doors and elevators, moves on its own to the customers. When it arrives, the robot sends text messages and calls so that customers can receive food by entering their mobile phone numbers on the robot's screen.
The service robot with two loading compartments can move 1.2 meters per second. It can overcome up to 2.2 centimeters of a raised spot and automatically slow down in narrow passages or on uneven roads. The battery lasts six hours and is automatically charged when waiting.
Woowa is confident of early commercialization as a coronavirus epidemic caused a spike in non-face-to-face orders. The company has launched a serving robot rental service for restaurants using Dilly robots that autonomously carry food to tables and return empty dishes. Dilly is able to move around obstacles.
In April, Woowa joined hands with Hyundai Elevator, the largest elevator and escalator producer in South Korea, to commercialize a system linking elevators and robots. They agreed to carry out pilot services at one lodging facility and one business facility.
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