Robots run this Starbucks in South Korea

The world’s “most unique” Starbucks is located in a building that serves as a testbed for robotic technologies.

The cafe is on the second floor of the new office building that houses Naver, a South Korean internet company. While humans still accept orders and make coffee, service robots deliver it to office employees scattered throughout the building.

The building, called 1784 after the first Industrial Revolution, serves as a testing ground for various robotic technologies built by Naver Labs, the company’s research and development subsidiary.

“Rookie” is an autonomous service robot that provides various services at 1784, including coffee runs. More than 100 robots roam the building and deliver lunch boxes, convenience store orders, documents, and packages to more than 5,000 employees.

Robots move freely between eight basement levels and 28 floors using a “roboport” – the robot-only elevator – and run on a multi-robot intelligence system called ARC, which Naver described as their “collective brain.”

The system is based on Naver cloud and 5G networks. According to Naver, technologies such as collision avoidance, predictive robot coordination, and pathfinding algorithms ensured robots moved smoothly.

The company said that the office in Seongnam, which serves as its second headquarters, is the world’s “largest robotic testbed” and offers a glimpse at the future of work.

Naver was founded in 1999, when it launched South Korea’s first search engine. It has grown into one of the country’s largest corporations.

Naver Labs was established in 2017 and has research operations in both South Korea and Europe. Its research is focused on autonomous systems and artificial intelligence. In addition to Rookie, other robots developed by Naver Labs include a dual-arm Ambidex, a server management system SeRo, and a drawing robot Arto-1.