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Technology

Hyundai adds restaurant delivery robots to the menu

South Korean auto champ teams up with nation's top Uber Eats-style app

Woowa Brothers' self-driving robots will carry orders from the restaurant to the customer's location at about 5kph to 6kph. (Photo courtesy of Woowa Brothers)

SEOUL -- Hyundai Motor will partner with Woowa Brothers, operator of South Korea's largest food delivery app, to develop robots that can carry meals from restaurant to door.

The South Korean companies envision a robot that can connect to a condominium's elevator system to travel between floors on its own, for example. The project will also involve developing an integrated management system that can handle multiple robots.

Woowa has already launched trials of its own self-driving delivery robots on public roads. The boxy robot, which can travel at about 5kph to 6kph and avoid obstacles, uses smartphone location tracking to find the customer who placed a given order. The customer can then confirm their identity via a mobile device to unlock the robot and retrieve the food.

Using Hyundai's technology will enable Woowa to roll out the service more widely.

The new partnership, announced Friday, is part of a plan by Hyundai to diversify its operations. The group envisions robotics accounting for 20% of its future business, with autos making up half and urban air mobility 30%.

Hyundai said in December that it would acquire a controlling interest in U.S. robot developer Boston Dynamics -- a deal expected to cost the automaker about $880 million -- to facilitate development of robots in a variety of applications, including industry and nursing care. Joining forces with Woowa will help Hyundai accumulate valuable know-how in the delivery space.

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