Conversion to Untact service being advanced by service robots!

Conversion to Untact service being advanced by service robots!

- A sudden increase in patent application filings in relation to untact service robots -

As if responding to the demand for safe service caused by COVID-19, various service robots are appearing to provide contactless service, referred to as ‘Untact’ service in Korea.

According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), that patent applications related to Untact service robots are actively being filed. By looking at annual filing status, 21 cases of such applications were filed per year from 2011 to 2015. However, the number rapidly increased to 55 cases in 2016 and even reached 109 cases in 2019, which shows that such filings are steeply increasing at an annual average of 43% since 2015.

<Status of annual patent application filings in relation to Untact service robots (From 2011 to August 2020)>

By looking at applicant type in the application filing trend over the most recent 10 years, major companies took 31% (152 cases) and small and medium-sized businesses took 31% (152 cases), equally taking the highest ratio of overall cases. This trend seems to show that major domestic companies lead technology development in the field of Untact service robots while small and medium-sized businesses form the robot market where associated services are provided, and in this manner the development of related technology has become active.

Meanwhile, universities and public research institutes followed next at 18% (91 cases), Individuals took 15% (73 cases) and foreigners filed of 5% (27 cases).

<Status of patent application filings by applicant type (from 2011 to August 2020)>

Status of filings for service robots by field shows that cases related to concierge robots were the most filed at 254 cases (51.3%), applications related to logistics delivery robots involved 161 cases (32.5%) and there were 20 cases (16.2%) of health care-related applications.

<Status of patent applications by field for Untact service robots (from 2011 to August 2020)>

Filings of applications related to concierge robots, which are mostly being used in hotels, libraries, airports and restaurants, etc., have been continuously increasing since 2016 when the number first rose substantially, and filings of applications related to unmanned logistics delivery robots that deliver products by coming and going right to stops such as stores or warehouses, etc. have been highly increasing since 2017.

Especially, filings of applications related to health care service robots increased 187% in 2020 with 23 cases (on an ending in August basis) compared to the previous year (8 cases in 2019). From this, it is analyzed that filings of applications in relation to overcoming COVID-19, such as robots being used for prevention of epidemics, for example sterilization and disinfection (10 cases) and robots in relation to sample collection (4 cases), etc. suddenly increased.

The Chief of the Intelligent Robot Examination Division at KIPO stated, “In order to overcome the many social and economic changes caused by COVID-19, service robots have emerged as solution. Service robots incorporating AI and automatic driving technologies constitute one of the technology fields with the highest growth potential, so it is expected that filings of related patent applications will continue. Also, securing strong intellectual property is necessary in order to protect continuous research and development in this area.”

[Source: KIPO]

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