LG adds industrial arm to its robotics business

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LG adds industrial arm to its robotics business

LG Electronics is beefing up its investment in the robotics sector, recently adding a local industrial robot manufacturer to its list.

The electronics giant said Wednesday that it will acquire a 20 percent stake in Robostar in July. The purchase, worth approximately 53.6 billion won ($49.6 million), will be made after Robostar issues new shares next month. Robostar also announced in a regulatory filing Tuesday that they have signed a sales agreement.

LG plans to continue increasing its stake in Robostar, aiming to take 33.4 percent of shares by the end of next year, making the electronics manufacturer a major stakeholder in the robot manufacturer.

Established in 1999, Robostar is one of the top local players in the industrial robot sector. It makes manufacturing robots used in factories that produce displays, semiconductors and chips.

LG has been boosting its investments in the robot sector over the last two years. Earlier this year, it obtained a 10 percent stake worth one billion won in Robotis, a company that develops educational robots and robot compartments.

LG also bought a 10 percent stake in Acryl this year. Acryl develops artificial intelligence technology for emotion recognition, as shown in AI platform Jonathan which answers human questions based on an analysis of the user’s emotions. In terms of R&D, LG is working with SG Robotics, a start-up that makes wearable robotic systems to increase mobility in impaired people.

Some of LG’s robots are already getting out and about. Last year, the electronics giant introduced guide robots at Incheon International Airport and the Starfield mall in Hanam, Gyeonggi. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, LG attempted to introduce three new robots designed to guide or wait on humans, although the technology failed to behave on the day.

The stock purchase in Robostar is particularly notable as it’s the company’s first investment in industrial robots.

“The robots that we released before are mainly used in homes, stores and indoors,” said an LG spokesman. “The investment in Robostar is meant to expand our portfolio for robots from guide robots to industrial ones.”

Robostar’s technology is to be used at LG’s smart factories as well. The company’s manufacturing facility in Changwon, South Gyeongsang, will be reconstructed as an “eco-friendly smart factory” by 2022.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]
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