Commercialization of Delivery Robots Starts in Songdo

‘Neubie,’ a delivery robot model developed by the robot delivery platform ‘Neubility. From October 5th, driving will begin in the Songdo International City of Incheon. Image courtesy of  Neubility.

‘Neubie,’ a delivery robot model developed by the robot delivery platform ‘Neubility.’ From October 5th, driving will begin in the Songdo International City of Incheon. Image courtesy of Neubility.

Jenny Kim, Journalist Team Leader

Starting from October 5, Neubility will commercialize delivery robots in Songdo International City, Incheon, South Korea. It is the first time a delivery robot has autonomously driven in the city center. Robot delivery platform ‘Neubility’ announced on October 5 that it had released a delivery robot model ‘Neubie.’ Neubie will begin delivery at Yonsei University International Campus in Songdo International City, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, for the front-runner. This delivery robot will expand its delivery area to all parts of Songdo International City next month and Gangnam-gu, Seoul within the fourth quarter.
The first type of food Neubie will deliver is chicken, well-known for Korean soul food. If the person orders from a premium chicken brand called Chicken de Chef, Neubie will deliver the chicken in front of the person’s address. Sooner or later, delivery service will also be in charge with the famous chicken franchise in South Korea, NeNe Chicken. On September 1, Neubility signed a business agreement with NeNe Chicken to introduce robot delivery services. On August 26, Neubility signed a deal with a convenience store franchise in South Korea, Seven-Eleven.
Newbie runs on the sidewalk, not on the roadway. The average speed is 5-6km per hour, which is not much different from average adults’ average walking speed (4km per hour). To avoid bumping into pedestrians or pets, various sensor technologies such as cameras, radars, and ultrasonic wave sensors are combined to recognize and predict surrounding situations in real-time. With this information, Neubie received a particular case for demonstrating regulatory sandboxes from the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy in September. The Road Traffic Act does not regulate products subject to exceptional cases like Neubie for two years. It is designed not to pose a threat to pedestrians even at night. Light-emitting diode (LED) lights are installed on the robot’s waist, and robot conditions are displayed in various colors, making it easier to identify the robot even in dark places.
Lee Sang-min, CEO of Neubility, said, “Neubies will not only showcase autonomous driving performance that travels around the city but also establish itself as a cute and smart robot that gives joy to daily life in terms of user experience.”
Songdo International City is currently in a situation where conflicts between residents and couriers intensify due to the delivery services. In an apartment in Songdo, a delivery motorcycle was regulated to be accessible only through an underground parking lot, so the delivery companies suspended delivery to that apartment. Amid the ongoing situation, other apartments are also moving to restrict the passage of delivery motorcycles. About 180 delivery workers have stopped delivering to the apartment complex since 27 of last month in opposition to the measure. Still, the apartment is confronting, saying, “We will actively reflect the reasonable request of the deliverymen, but we will never allow them to access delivery through the ground floor.”
Currently, regulations related to the delivery of motorcycles are reportedly occurring because couriers do not comply with traffic laws properly, interrupt the traffic, and sometimes drive recklessly that threatens pedestrians, etc.