Convenience store franchise CU demonstrates autonomous delivery robot capable of going up stairs and hills

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : April 13, 2023, 17:29 Updated : April 14, 2023, 19:06

[Courtesy of BGF Retail]

SEOUL -- South Korea's top convenience store franchise CU has partnered with Mobinn, an in-house venture of the Hyundai auto group, to demonstrate an autonomous robot capable of delivering convenience store items to apartment residents by going up and down stairs and hills without any difficulties. The robot can maintain balance even on stairs because it changes the shape of its wheel.
Although various autonomous robots have been tested in South Korea, door-to-door delivery services are not easy with existing delivery robots in urban environments. Research institutes have developed legged robots that can go up the stairs, but they are inefficient in terms of production cost and delivery performance.
BGF Retail, the operator of CU, said in a statement that the company has been testing the robot created by Mobinn since April 3 Hwaseong, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) southwest of Seoul. The robot recognizes obstacles such as narrow sidewalks with three-dimensional sensors. Using wheels that bend when moving on stairs or hills, the robot can shorten the travel distance. 20 test robots took an average time of 11 minutes per delivery run.
The new solution designed for a last-mile delivery service is delivering items to an apartment complex some 100 kilometers away from a local CU store. BGF retail expects the product will be used for short-distance delivery in the future considering that it was faster than laser Imaging detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensor-based delivery robots, which take about 20 to 30 minutes to complete delivery.
The new robot operates 24 hours a day regardless of weather conditions. The delivery items can always be kept horizontal thanks to the wheels that change shape when driving on obstacles. After confirming the robot's self-driving performance and capability to overcome obstacles, BGF Retail will expand the number of delivery regions.
The demonstration is followed by the transport ministry's approval to demonstrate the robot in urban areas. In September 2022, traffic and data privacy regulations were suspended for the demonstration of Hyundai's delivery robot through a regulatory sandbox policy that exempts regulations to help build a smart city.
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