SEOUL, Oct. 17 (Korea Bizwire) – Following in the footsteps of Google, Amazon and Microsoft — software IT firms that have been making serious forays into the hardware aspect of technology — Naver unveiled similar ambitions at its developers’ conference Deview 2017, held at Coex on October 16.
Naver entered the robotics business in earnest last year, when it announced the inception of its robotics R&D division, citing the importance of ‘ambient intelligence’, which means an electronic environment that is responsive to people.
Some of the robots on display at Deview 2017 were an electronic ‘air cart’, a four-wheel self-balanced electronic skateboard, a ‘cheetah robot’ and a four-wheel ‘tuskbot’ that can climb stairs.
One of the highlights was the ‘Around’, an indoors, self-driving robot that is about the size of a small child. Naver said that the Around was manufactured with affordable parts, something that sets it apart from other, similar models. It is currently in use at the secondhand book store chain Yes24′s Busan establishment, where it freely navigates its way throughout, placing books back on shelves.
The robots are the result of an ongoing collaborative relationship between Naver Labs, the R&D subsidiary of Naver, and American and South Korean universities including Seoul National University, MIT, UIUC and Koreatech (Korea University of Technology and Education).
Another major focus of Naver’s transition into hardware is the in-house development of self-driving cars. Naver’s autonomous driving car technology was explained by CTO Song Chang-hyeon, who said that level 4 self-driving cars would be developed by the end of this year.
Song further promised that Naver would make it possible for level 4 self-driving to be feasible even in busy, urban environments.
A level 4 self-driving car would be capable of handling the vast majority of actions during driving, leaving the driver to make big picture decisions like the choice of destination.
As of the present, no South Korean company has yet to develop level 4 self-driving car technology. Naver currently possesses level 3 technology.
Along with robotics, the integral capability self-driving car technology to gather and process high precision location data comprises a significant part of Naver’s push for ambient intelligence.
Naver also previewed its trackable wearable device for children dubbed the ‘AKI’. Shaped like a wristwatch, the device boasts an upgraded tracking system that can correctly map the wearer’s location even when indoors, where GPS systems tend to falter.
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)