SK Telecom has developed a new autonomous robot to handle disinfection and monitoring duties as part of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the company said on Tuesday.
The robot, which was co-developed with South Korean industrial automation solution provider Omron, will disinfect designated areas of the telco's headquarters in Seoul by using ultraviolet lamps.
It will also monitor the temperatures of people around it and check whether they are wearing face masks.
Those who are not wearing masks will be asked to do so by the robot if there are too many people around, SK Telecom said, which will use the telco's self-developed facial recognition technology.
The robot will send the temperature data via 5G networks to a central server, SK Telecom said.
The carrier said it hopes the robots will lessen the workloads of people who are performing monitoring duties amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
So far, the robots have only been deployed at SK Telecom's headquarters.
The company said it would launch the robot for sale in South Korea in the second half of the year and has plans to begin exporting them abroad next year.
SK Telecom isn't the only telco eyeing robotics in light of COVID-19. Rival KT has launched autonomous carts with 5G connectivity at its smartphone warehouse. KT said the carts would lessen human-to-human contact and staff workloads.
Rise in 5G subscribers increased sales but investment into 5G infrastructure slightly dented profitability.
More and more South Korean tech firms are reacting to the spike in coronavirus cases in the country, with 1,146 confirmed cases and 11 dead, as of Wednesday.
SK Telecom is set to own a 2.5% stake in Kakao, while the chat giant will own a 1.6% stake of South Korea's incumbent telco.
South Korea has currently allocated 2,680MHz for 5G use but aims to add up to another 2,640MHz by 2026.
KT has succeeded in data transfer between its 5G network and a satellite 36,000 kilometres away.