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Hyundai Robotics Steps into Food-Tech Market with KFC Korea

Hyundai Robotics, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) Group's affiliate that offers comprehensive robotics solutions, joined hands with fried chicken franchise KFC Korea to enter the 'food-tech' market.
Hyundai Robotics announced on October 23 that it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with KFC on 'cooperation in research for joint development of an automated chicken making process' at KFC Eungam branch in Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul.

Present at the signing ceremony were Seo Yoo-seong, CEO of Hyundai Robotics, and Eom Ik-soo, CEO of KFC Korea, among others.

Under the MoU, the two parties will work together on the research and development of an automated process of chicken making using collaborative robots, as well as the process layout and the development of cooking devices for improved cooking efficiency.

Hyundai Robotics will take charge of designing a process for streamlining cooking and standardizing operational procedures, and KFC will provide cooking know-how and its stores while also developing cooking devices.

In particular, Hyundai Robotics will use the vision sensing technology (analyzing images captured by a camera to determine the presence, orientation, and accuracy of parts) to automate the product classification process, and utilize mobile robots with high mobility in narrow spaces, where collaborative robots have limited freedom to move around. As such, Hyundai Robotics plans to gradually expand the application of the relevant technologies to the cooking process.

By making the most use of collaborative robots to carry out high-risk and repetitive tasks for chicken making from beginning to end, Hyundai Robotics is expected to increase the stability and efficiency of the work process under this MoU.

Also, the introduction of robots into the cooking process is expected to result in improved consumer satisfaction as they help process various orders more quickly and accurately.

Building on its rich experience in the smart factory business where robots make robots, Hyundai Robotics is now widening its business horizons into the food-tech market.

Food-tech, which refers to the application of advanced technologies in the food industry, is gaining growing attention since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to Research and Markets, the world's leading source for international market data, the global food tech market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.8% and reach USD 250 billion in 2022.

"The pandemic has driven changes in the consumer behavior, opening up a new opportunity called food-tech," said Mr. Seo, CEO of Hyundai Robotics. "We will leverage this joint project with KFC as an opportunity to expand our business portfolio by developing and applying robotics technologies to a wider range of industries."

Having spun off from its parent HHI Holdings in May, Hyundai Robotics is Korea's No. 1 industrial robot maker. In June, it attracted an investment of KRW 50 billion from KT, one of the nation's top three mobile carriers, and is continuously sharpening its competitiveness in future technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and information and communications technology (ICT), through business cooperation with various partners.