The new staff flew around the office, performing regular tasks like obtaining coffee, delivering meals, and passing off stuff. They didn’t get in the way of anyone or breach anyone’s personal space. They waited for elevators unobtrusively and politely. And, perhaps most importantly, they did not complain.

For some months, Naver, a South Korean internet company, has been experimenting with incorporating robots into office life. A fleet of roughly 100 robots drives around on its own within a futuristic, starkly industrial 36-story high-rise on the outskirts of Seoul, travelling from floor to level on robot-only elevators and occasionally close to humans, rolling past security gates and accessing meeting rooms.

Naver’s web services network, which includes a search engine, maps, email, and news aggregation, is powerful in South Korea, but it lacks the global reputation of a corporation like Google. The organisation has been looking for fresh expansion opportunities. It agreed to pay…

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