South Korea tech giants expanding robotics amid COVID-19

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Sept. 23 (UPI) — South Korea’s biggest tech companies are investing in robotics as a solution to the risks of human contact amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Service robots could soon reduce the number of jobs in restaurants and hotels, however.

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LG Electronics is expanding its robot business and introducing new technology in hotels that eliminates the need for human servers, South Korean news service EDaily reported Wednesday.

The company will soon introduce a robot that pours draft beer for guests at the Mayfield Hotel buffet in Seoul, according to the report.

Robots could replace workers in other areas of the hotel, including people who work in outdoor delivery, food and beverage, and even concierge services.

LG Electronics, part of the fourth-biggest conglomerate in South Korea, LG Corp., is positioned to install robots in a variety of locations, including in apartment complexes, on university campuses and playgrounds. An LG affiliate is one of the biggest construction companies in the country.

LG Electronics acquired SB Robotics, a Singaporean company, and U.S. firm Robostar in 2018. In July, the South Korean company launched the Chloe Subbot, an autonomous driving robot, according to EDaily.

Rival Samsung Electronics has also been turning its attention to robotics. Earlier in the week, the company said its GEMS exoskeleton earned a certification from the International Organization for Standardization. The hip exoskeleton is a wearable robot that helps wearers who face challenges walking, running or standing up, according to Yonhap.

Telecom company KT is partnering with restaurant chain Mad for Garlic in Seoul on a pilot program using an artificial intelligence-powered serving robot.

South Korean tech firms are also developing more efficient car batteries that could compete with U.S. firms like Tesla, Newsis reported Wednesday.

On Tuesday, at its much anticipated Battery Day, Tesla revealed a better, 56% cheaper and more efficient battery that could lower the price of electric cars, according to MarketWatch.

An improved battery may not be enough to make cheaper cars, however, analysts say.