KT introduces 5G autonomous carts for post-COVID-19 era

By William Girling
South Korean telecoms company KT has announced the introduction of 5G-enabled self-driving carts to operate in its logistics sector. Estimating that th...

South Korean telecoms company KT has announced the introduction of 5G-enabled self-driving carts to operate in its logistics sector.

Estimating that the new carts could increase employee efficiency by 50% during the loading and transporting of inventory within warehouses. 

Working in conjunction with Twinny, a local software company specialising in indoor AI robots, KT has deployed two models - ‘NarGo’ and ‘TarGo’ - and has made history as the first South Korean telecommunications company to utilise 5G-driven logistics tech.

“In preparation for the post-COVID era, technologies to minimise person-to-person contact are increasingly demanded throughout industries,” said Choi Kangrim, Head of KT’s Connected Car Biz Center. 

Transforming warehouse logistics

“By applying AIV (Autonomous Intelligent Vehicle) services based on our advanced communication networks and platforms in a wider scope of industries and leading relevant technological advancement, we at KT will do our utmost to help our customers enjoy the benefits in their everyday lives,” added Kangrim.

The aforementioned AIV service integrated into NarGo and TarGo allows the carts to process instructions, assess operating conditions using pre-installed environment maps and make real-time decisions using 5G-enabled fast data streaming.

The development of similar technology across every industry requiring the manual handling of stock is likely to become essential, particularly as companies reinvent operating models to reflect new COVID-19 restrictions.

KT has made it clear that autonomous vehicles do not represent the limit of its commitment to tackling the challenge. In its press release, the company said:


“Beyond the application of its autonomous driving technology at the Seobu Distribution Center, KT will continue its research and development efforts to lead the technological advances required to reduce person-to-person contact throughout the logistics industry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Protecting the future

Furthermore, in a press release from mid-May, the company announced that it had partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on an AI & Big Data-based solution to prepare for/prevent future global pandemics.

The USD$10mn, three-year research collaboration was partially established in recognition of South Korea’s well-handled management of the virus.

“With this contribution from the Gates Foundation, KT hopes to enhance our opportunity to lead the global effort toward outbreak prevention and response by taking advantage of AI and Big Data,” said Jeon Hongbeom, KT’s head of AI/DX Business Unit. 

“We also expect to contribute further to the Republic of Korea’s capabilities for epidemic response and preparedness, which has already been globally recognised.”

Andrew Trister, deputy director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, added that the partnership with KT, which emphasised the importance of mobile and telecoms technology, would be crucial to establishing a better response for future outbreaks.

“The use of mobile technology and sensors paired with smart data analysis can help address some of the challenges countries face in a timely and effective response to disease outbreaks. 

“Knowing where a disease is moving and being able to predict spread can help save time and save lives. We’re pleased to be providing co-funding alongside KT for this consortium of research partners. These will be valuable learnings for South Korea, and applicable to other geographies,” he said.

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