Gizmodo’s got a brief summary today of an article in the Korea Herald that outlines the government of South Korea’s desire to have commercially available intelligent robots by next year. The “intelligent service robot” project as it is being called by the Ministry of Information and Communication states that intelligent robots for entertainment, education, home security and household chores will be available in 2007 at a price of less than 1 million won (approx $950 USD).
Contrary to popular belief, Korea is not already a leader in robot technologies. By some estimations it is behind Japan, the US, and some European countries by as much as three years. Although they have recently developed several advanced robots including Hubo, Maru, and Ara, the components for these systems were mostly imported from other countries. This initiative is an attempt to overcome this technological gap.
Small Korean companies have been manufacturing specialized robots whose functions run the gamut from vacuum and cleaning robots to entertainment robots to military robots. They have even made soccer playing robots. The ministry plans to use these existing robots as the basis for their intelligent service robots by integrating network capabilities into them, thereby creating “ubiquitous robotic companions” or URC’s. Korea does have a very strong information network infrastructure, and the government is in talks with broadband providers to encourage them to implement URC’s in order to make them more popular with the public.