LG Electronics invests 9 billion won in robotics firm

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LG Electronics invests 9 billion won in robotics firm

LG Electronics purchased a 10.12 percent share of Korean robotics company Robotis as part of its continued effort to bolster its robotics business.

According to the tech giant on Friday, it recently paid about 9 billion won ($8.5 million) to purchase new stocks issued by Robotis. LG now holds 19,231 common stocks of the Korean robot maker.

Robotis, founded in 1999, builds hardware like robot controller and sensor modules as well as robot controlling software. The company’s profile grew after it independently developed robotic actuators, or electric motors, which convert energy into motion. According to Robotis, electric motors are most commonly used as robot joints because they are cheap and easy to control and play a vital role in maneuvering robots.

After initially announcing it had set its sights on robotics at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show, LG Electronics has been working to expand its partnerships with local robot makers.

In March last year, the company inked a partnership with SG Robotics, a wearable robot start-up founded by a research team from Sogang University.

“We will keep on expanding our investment and partnerships with other companies to raise the competitiveness of our robot business,” a spokesperson from LG electronics said.

LG hopes to accelerate development of its robotics division by coupling the technology of its partners with its expertise in artificial intelligence and autonomous driving, the company said in statement. LG already deployed some of its robots in Incheon International Airport last year.

A guide robot, equipped with LG’s voice-recognition technology, offers real-time information on flight schedules, delays and terminal numbers based on a connection with the airport’s main server. Cleaning robots, capable of driving around the crowded airport without bumping into people, support the human sanitary workers.

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas from Tuesday, LG introduced three new concept robots - a serving robot, porter robot and shopping cart robot.

Despite ambitious goals, however, LG still has a long way to go with its robotics development. The demonstration at CES left LG executives red-faced as the robots often ignored or misinterpreted questions and instructions.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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