The new office mate could be a ‘brainless’ robot

SEONGNAM (SOUTH KOREA): New employees run around the office completing mundane tasks like picking up coffee, delivering food, and delivering packages. They don’t get in anyone’s way. They waited quietly for the elevator with indispensable courtesy. And, perhaps most intriguingly, they didn’t complain. That’s because they’re robots.
Robots have found a home in other workplaces, such as factories, retail, and hotels, but they are mostly absent in the office world and conference rooms. . Naver – a major internet conglomerate in Korea – has been testing the integration of robots into office life for several months. Inside a futuristic 36-story industrial building on the outskirts of Seoul, a team of about 100 robots move around on their own, moving from floor to floor on a robot-only elevator— Boots and sometimes next to humans, rolling through the gate security and into the meeting room. Naver’s network of web services, including a search engine, maps, email, and news aggregator, dominates in South Korea, but its overseas reach is limited, lacking popularity. the global language of a company like Google.
There are privacy conundrums, experts say: A machine filled with a company’s cameras and hallway-roaming sensors could be a company’s outdated surveillance tool if misused. However, Naver has done extensive research to make sure its robots look, move, and behave in a way that makes employees feel comfortable. And as it develops its own robot security rules, it hopes to write the blueprint for future office robots. “Our effort now is to minimize the discomfort they cause to humans,” said Kang Sang-chul, chief executive officer of Naver Labs.
Naver says one distinguishing feature of their robots is that they are intentionally “brainless,” meaning they don’t roll the information-processing computer inside the machine. Instead, the robots communicate in real time over a private, high-speed 5G network with a centralized “cloud” computing system.
Tech companies often encourage employees to test their own products, but with its robots, Naver has turned its entire office into a research and development lab. Every door is programmed to open when the robot approaches. There are no tight hallways or obstructions on the floor. The ceiling is marked with numbers and QR codes to help the robot orient itself.
Naver isn’t the only tech company trying to develop robotic technology. Rice Robotics has deployed hundreds of boxy, animated robots to deliver packages, groceries, etc in office buildings, shopping malls and convenience stores across Asia. Robots like Optimala prototype Tesla announced in September, designed to be more human-like, carrying boxes, watering plants, etc., but they are far from implemented.


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