Korean Internet Giant Naver Explores Robotics, AI, And Autonomous Driving


Korean internet giant Naver, known as the “Google of South Korea,” is venturing into the fields of robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and autonomous driving. The company has already made strides in these areas, with the introduction of its autonomous robots called Rookies.

The Rise of Naver 1784 and the Rookies

In July last year, Naver opened its second headquarters, Naver 1784, which serves as a testament to the growing influence of automation. Inside the building, 100 autonomous robots, known as Rookies, navigate through the facilities, delivering parcels, coffee, and lunch to Naver’s employees using 5G technology. These robots have even been assigned their own robots-only elevator, called Roboport. The building serves as a test bed for Naver Labs, the company’s research and development division.

Naver’s Research and Development Initiatives

Naver has been actively working on various projects in the fields of robotics, autonomous driving, and AI since 2013. To strengthen its research capabilities, the company acquired Xerox Research Centre Europe (XRCE) in Grenoble, France, which specializes in AI, machine learning, computer vision, and natural language processing. XRCE has since become Naver Labs.

The Vision for Naver Labs

The long-term vision of Naver Labs is to create useful robots that can be integrated into everyday life. The company envisions robot assistants in various settings such as homes, hospitals, museums, shopping malls, and airports. In the short term, Naver Labs is focusing on last-mile delivery applications in smart cities and buildings.

The Role of AI in Naver’s Robotics

Naver Labs has developed the ARC system, an intelligence system for its robots. The ARC system enables the Rookies to see, recognize, and operate without relying on GPS. Instead, the system uses computer vision methods to help the robots understand their surroundings and find the most efficient routes. Through cloud connectivity, the ARC system reduces manufacturing costs and battery consumption for the robots, as tasks are offloaded to the cloud.

Naver Labs Europe and Naver Labs Korea

Naver Labs Europe (NLE) and Naver Labs Korea (NLK) have aligned their research efforts, focusing on AI for robotics and systems engineering, respectively. NLE is working on computer vision methods and sequential decision making, while NLK is advancing robotics technology and platform engineering. The collaboration between the two entities allows for information sharing and progress in defining joint objectives.

Impressive Research Capabilities

Naver Labs boasts a massive test bed for developing and operating robots in the real world, a team of highly skilled engineers and researchers, and powerful cloud infrastructure. The company’s research activities include foundation models like CroCo, which is designed to understand the world in 3D using images and is used for advanced robot perception tasks like localization, navigation, and human-robot interaction.

Key Takeaway

Korean internet giant Naver is venturing into the fields of robotics, artificial intelligence, and autonomous driving. Through its research and development division, Naver Labs, the company is focused on creating useful robots for everyday life, starting with its autonomous delivery robots called Rookies. Naver Labs aims to advance AI-powered computer vision, machine learning, and natural language processing to make their robots versatile assistants.

Other major Korean tech companies like Samsung, LG, Hyundai, and Doosan are also investing in robotics development. The growth of these companies in the fields of robotics and AI signifies the increasing importance and potential of these technologies in shaping the future of various industries.

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