Naver’s second headquarters to become ‘robot-friendly’

By Yeo Jun-suk

S. Korea tech firm announces ambitious AI technology development plan to compete against tech giants in US, China

  • Published : Oct 28, 2019 - 16:10
  • Updated : Oct 28, 2019 - 16:12

South Korean internet company Naver said Monday its advanced robot technology would be incorporated into the operation of the tech giant’s second headquarters scheduled to be built by 2021.

During its developer conference Deview 2019 in Seoul, Naver’s leadership announced a specific construction plan for its new business complex. The building will be located right next to Naver’s first headquarters, Green Factory, in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province.

In what Naver described the world’s first robot-friendly building, its residents can maximize the benefit of using robots for their work, Naver said. Robots can be used for face recognition, food delivery, conference meeting and other areas where “humans and robots can co-exist.”

“Our technology and building infrastructure will be organically combined in this place,” said Seok Sang-ok, who leads Naver’s research and development unit Naver LABS at the conference where President Moon Jae-in attended. “It will become an opportunity to demonstrate new standards about what technology is capable of.”

President Moon Jae-in (center) demonstrates how to use a robotic cheetah when he attends Naver’s 2019 Deview conference held at Coex conference hall in Seoul Monday. Standing left to Moon is Seok Sang-ok, who leads Naver’s research and development unit, Naver LABS. (Naver)
According to Seok, the building’s robot-based infrastructure can help reduce the time needed for identification checks to 0.1 seconds. The machines are also able to write down meeting minutes for Naver employees.

Robots can also deliver food, drinks and other items to those working inside the building. Equipping themselves with advanced sensors, the delivery robots will travel along special lanes designed for them.

The company said it aims to expand the use of autonomous driving technology beyond the building’s internal operations. Seok said his ultimate goal is to provide logistics services using self-driving cars under Naver’s “A City” urban planning initiative.

“Ultimately, we are hoping to achieve seamless connection for information and service at any physical place,” said Seok. “Our plan is to establish the first place where robots and human beings can co-exist.”

Meanwhile, the company announced that it would enhance cooperation with researchers around the world to improve its technological capacities in the artificial intelligence area and compete against global tech giants.

Centering on cooperation with experts in Korea, Japan, France and Southeast Asia, Naver said it was seeking to build an extensive research and development network for its AI technology.

These efforts will begin with an AI conference set to be held in France, where dozens of scholars will gather to discuss the prospect of robot technology, Naver said. The “AI for Robotics” meeting is to be held between Nov. 28 and 29 by Naver LABS overseas branches in Europe.  

“In the long term, we are hoping our research belt would emerge as a new global trend,” and compete against similar initiatives led by big tech companies in China and the US, such as Google, Facebook, Baidu and Alibaba, Seok said.

By Yeo Jun-suk (