Hyundai Has Robots That Deliver Coffee and Park Cars

South Korean automobile brand Hyundai has announced the deployment of AI-powered robots, taking the technology out of science fiction and deploying it in a much more mundane setting: an office building.

The robots are very different, and are not humanoid in form, designed to tackle specific tasks. The pair of machines do interact with humans at the Factorial Seongsu building in Seoul. The robots are part of the company’s “Robot Total Solution,” the company said, and are equipped with advanced technologies, including a facial recognition system.

The DAL-e Delivery robot—co-developed by Hyundai Motors and Kia—resembles a distant cousin of Disney’s WALL-E. It can carry up to 10 cups of coffee for delivery to designated offices or meeting rooms.

In addition to the ability to navigate the building, DAL-e has an automatic communication system and an 11.6-inch touchscreen display that allows it to engage with customers.

“With DAL-e’s full-fledged delivery service, we aim to make Factorial Seongsu the first building to apply our Robot Total Solution,” said Dong Jin Hyun, vice president and head of the joint Hyundai and Kia robotics lab. He added that the company plans to implement these robotic services in its other facilities soon.

The second robot, the Hyundai WIA, can shoulder a lot more weight than coffee. It’s a parking assistant that can move cars and navigate tight corners.

The parking robot attaches to a vehicle’s front and back wheels while a camera system guides the robots to the car’s assigned spot.

Image: Hyundai

The Hyundai WIA can move in any direction to automatically park or retrieve vehicles and can carry vehicles through a multistory building. And it’s expected to be put to work at the company’s electric vehicle production plant in Georgia.

Talking about the safety features of the robotic parking assistant, Shindan Kang, vice president and head of Hyundai’s mobility planning group, said, “Its performance and safety were fully verified while preparing for its large-scale introduction to the Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America this year.”

The company says it has developed a smart parking control system ready to manage up to 50 parking robots simultaneously. By the third quarter of this year, Hyundai adds, the WIA will offer EV charging services with the help of the company’s automatic charging robot.

Although robotics are commonplace in some settings, especially in automotive factories, they’re making inroads into other spaces. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said earlier this month that his company has Optimus humanoid robots working both in its factory as well as “cruising around in our offices in Palo Alto.”

Edited by Ryan Ozawa.

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