In South Korea, the era of real robo cops will soon begin when the country's month-long $864,000 robotic guard project trial kicks into gear. Three 5' tall four-wheeled robots developed by the Asian Forum for Corrections — a group of South Korean researchers specializing in criminality and prison policies — will take on the role of night prison guards at the city of Pohang.
The robots will relieve human workers of their guarding duties not to replace them, but to allow them to focus on rehabilitation efforts. Sensors on the robots can determine behaviors among inmates that usually lead to violence or even suicide, so the human workers can be alerted quickly. Cameras attached to their torsos also come with a remote conversation function that inmates and guards can use to talk to each other.
Professor Lee Baik-Chu who leads the design process says they're "almost done with creating [the robot's] key operating system, [and they] are now working on refining its details to make it look more friendly to inmates." He fails to elaborate what he means by making it look "friendly," but a computer render suggests an affable, smiling robotic face. The month-long project, slated to launch in March 2012, is part of a series of investments by the South Korean government in an effort to develop its robotics industry.
[Image credit: Asian Forum for Corrections]
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