As part of its research, Naver has also published studies in the field of human-robot interaction. After a series of experiments, for example, Naver concluded that the optimal place for a robot in an elevator crowded with humans is the corner next to the entrance on the side opposite the elevator buttons. Naver researchers found that placing the robot in the back of an elevator made humans uncomfortable.
The company’s engineers also designed movable eyes that stare in the direction the robot is heading. They found that employees were better able to anticipate the robot’s movement if they could see its gaze.
None of the machines look human. Mr. Kang said the company does not want to give people the false impression that robots will act like humans. (Some robotics experts believe that humanoid robots make humans more, not less, uncomfortable.)
Naver isn’t, of course, the only tech company trying to advance robot technology. Rice Robotics has deployed hundreds of boxy, cartoonish robots that deliver packages, groceries, and more in office buildings, malls, and convenience stores across Asia. Robots like Optimus, a prototype unveiled by Tesla in September, are designed to be more human-like, carrying boxes, water stations and more, but there’s still a long way to go before they’re deployed.
Rice Robotics CEO Victor Lee said he was touched when he saw videos of the machines and the robot-friendly Naver building. While Price’s delivery bots work differently, Naffer’s approach “made sense,” he says. “Naver clearly has more development budget on these innovative projects.”
One of the defining features of its robots, Naver said, is that they are intentionally “brainless,” meaning they don’t spin computers that process the information inside the machine. Instead, the bots communicate in real time over a private, high-speed 5G network with a centralized “cloud” computing system. The robots’ movements are processed using data from cameras and sensors.