Though you’ve experienced a serving robot that serves food directly at a restaurant, you’ve never experienced a “delivery robot” that brings home food that you’ve ordered. Amid the lack of delivery riders while the delivery food market is growing day by day, it is expected that the presence of the delivery robot will expand. ST learned about the concept of the delivery robot ..................................Ed
According to the National Statistical Office, the size of the online order delivery food market has more than doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the market has grown, the number of riders to deliver food are not enough to catch up with the rapidly growing food delivery market. It is natural that delivery fees will rise because supply is insufficient. This is not all. According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Employment and Labor in December 2021, 47% of the total number of delivery riders experienced traffic accidents during delivery. One solution to this problem is the delivery robot. In particular, a delivery robot called “Neubie” of startup Neubility is attracting attention these days. First, Neubie is being used in golf courses and convenience stores. It delivers lunch boxes or drinks ordered by golfers on the field. It was used to deliver goods at 7-Eleven near Seocho I-Park Apartment in Seoul for three months by the end of February 2022. It also delivered chicken inside the international campus of Yonsei University in Songdo, Incheon.
What is unique about Neubie is that, unlike other delivery robots, Neubie has a camera, not a lidar. The standard for self-driving technology is lidar. The radar uses the reflection of radio waves to identify objects. The lidar uses radar reflections. This type of lidar is expensive, as it is state-of-the-art. The camera is at a beginner’s level among self-driving technologies. It is difficult to say that Neubility’s technology has a comparative advantage. Lidar-based robots cost more than 10 million won for sensors alone. It is too expensive to order convenience store or food delivery. On the other hand, camera-based Neubie sensors cost less than 1 million won. Price competitiveness is Neubie’s comparative advantage.
The commercialization of delivery robots can reduce delivery time, and reduce labor costs for companies, which can lead to lower delivery charges. However, in order for delivery robots to be commercialized, there is a problem to be solved called regulation. There are four laws hindering this development: the Road Traffic Act, the Park Greening Act, the Living Logistics Act, and the Personal Information Protection Act. Delivery robots are classified as cars, and cannot pass through sidewalks and crosswalks. In addition, under the Park Greening Act, which blocks access to parks when a vehicle operates on a power of more than 30 kilograms, park driving is not allowed. There is little space for them to move outdoors. The Living Logistics Act does not allow them because transportation is limited to freight cars and two-wheeled vehicles. Finally, they recognizes obstacles and moves through the camera, and the said act prohibits transmitting captured images. Without resolving these regulations, there is virtually no way for delivery robots to be used in real life.
There is also various criticism of delivery robots. However, Neubie aims for short distances, which delivery riders avoid. Delivery riders and robots can coexist together because they can travel short distances by using sidewalks in complex downtown areas. tvN’s Unexpected Journey featured Los Angeles, where they have already permeated people’s daily lives. ST hopes Soongsilians would see delivery robots like Neubie freely roaming the streets of Korea in the near.
Lee Yun-so (ST Cub-Reporter)