We love to report about robots. Flying robots, military robots, assistive robots, medical robots…you name it and we've covered it. Now we can tick prison guard robots off the list, with the South Korean Ministry of Justice announcement they will be adding three new prison guard robots to pull night duty in a prison in Pohang.
The five-foot tall, wheeled robots will be on the lookout for suspicious activity in the cells and monitor prisoner health. If trouble is detected they will immediately alert human guards for intervention.
The project is estimated to cost approximately $886,00 USD and will commence trial in March of next year. Most of the basic systems of the robot are ready, however they are undergoing improvements to make them appear more appealing to humans. A reasonable move for a situation in which the robots will need to be able to detect inmate activity, but don't want to overly provoke reactions either.
The prison guard project is part of a South Korean movement to make full use of robotics in as many aspects of life as possible. The South Korean Ministry for Education has announced there will be telepresence robots in every kindergarten classroom by 2013. On the other end of the spectrum there are the automated gun turrets their military has installed along the DMZ with North Korea.
Given this wide range of robotic capabilities, and the support from the South Korean government, it is likely we'll see the development of more and more robot applications in the near future. We can't wait to see what happens next!
The prison guard robots are developed by ETRI and Kyonggi University.