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Korea Seven partners with robot developer to commercialize autonomous delivery robots

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : August 26, 2021, 16:24 Updated : August 26, 2021, 16:40

[Courtesy of Neubility]

SEOUL -- Korea Seven, the South Korean operator of global convenience store franchise 7-Eleven, has teamed up with Neubility, a domestic autonomous robot startup, to adopt and commercialize short-range delivery services using autonomous robots equipped with multiple cameras and sensors. When commercialized, the robots could help store owners save operating costs. 

In South Korea, major convenient stores provide delivery services to customers through food delivery apps. Data released by the Fair Trade Commission, a state trade watchdog, shows that the domestic delivery food services market reached 23 trillion won ($19.8 billion) in 2020. Yogiyo, a popular domestic food delivery service app, launched a grocery delivery service in 2019 to deliver products from convenience stores including CU and GS25. Delivery agencies receive fees of about 4,100 won ($3.51) per delivery run. 

Korea Seven said on August 26 that it signed a cooperation agreement with Neubility to commercialize Neubie, an autonomous robot in Seoul and its surrounding cities by the end of 2021. The robots operate using its cameras, which only cost one-tenth of a light detection and ranging (LiDAR) device. 

Neubie robots can easily carry out delivery missions even in complex urban areas regardless of weather conditions. It is hard for autonomous robots to operate in Seoul's southern district of Gangnam filled with skyscrapers. Their GPS-based self-driving system may not work properly because satellite signals are blocked by hulking buildings. However, Neubie robots can avoid obstacles and navigate to their destination using cameras and sensors.

"The two companies will cooperate to build a model for next-generation delivery service that brings convenience to store management as well as increased profits," Choi Kyung-ho, CEO of 7-Eleven in South Korea was quoted as saying.

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