Monday, 28 Sep 2020

AI robot serves diners as South Korea restaurant ensures social distancing amid Covid-19

SEOUL (REUTERS) – “Aglio Kim”, a trolley-like robot which uses artificial intelligence (AI), is delivering food to customers at a restaurant in Seoul, in order to minimise human contact and help ensure social distancing.

Shortly after customers order through a touchscreen on the table, the 1.25m-tall robot, developed by South Korean telecoms company KT Corp, brings the food and uses its visual SLAM (simultaneous localisation and mapping) capabilities to avoid obstacles and navigate around customers.

The robot can deliver food to up to four tables at once, KT’s AI Platform Business Team leader Lee Young-jin told Reuters.

The AI robot is equipped with food trays which can carry up to 30kg and an LCD screen and speaker that communicate in both Korean and English.

“Customers found the robot serving quite unique and interesting, and also felt safe from the coronavirus,” said Mr Lee Young-ho, a manager at the Mad for Garlic restaurant which tested the robot this month.

From Monday, restaurants and cafes in the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area are allowed to open after 9pm, but must leave 2m between tables and record patrons’ names and contact details.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 106 new coronavirus cases as of Monday, bringing its total number of infections to 22,391 with 367 deaths.

KT said that it aims to supply more robots for restaurants this year and will unveil a second model with AI voice recognition technology early next year.

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