SEOUL, Sept. 29, 2006 — -- South Korea has unveiled an armed robot that it says will able to detect and repel intruders along its heavily armed border with North Korea.
The so-called "Intelligent Surveillance and Guard Robot" uses visual and infra-red detection to distinguish between humans, trees, and vehicles, and can do so from 2.5 miles away during the day and about half that at night.
"Until now, technology allowed these robots to conduct monitoring function[s] only. But [now] our robots can detect suspicious moving objects, literally go after them, and can even fire at them," said Sang-Il Han, principal research engineer at Samsung Techwin.
Once the target is within 10 meters, it will demand a pre-programmed military secret code. If this code is not provided, it could give three possible responses: sound an alarm, fire rubber bullets or open fire with a K-3 machine gun.
Since 2003 South Korea' s government and private sector have invested $5 million each on developing military robots in an attempt to prevent future loss of military manpower -- especially important in light of South Korea's dwindling birthrate.
This ten million dollar project is set to be marketed next year. The robots will also be tauted for use in guarding civilian facilities such as airports, power plants and oil pipelines.
The initial price will be around $200,000 per robot and both Korea University and the fourfold conglomerate who teamed up to create the robot -- Samsung Techwin Co., Sejin System Co., MediaZen and Sysfo Lab Co. -- hope to reach sales of over $200 million in the first year.