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Government vows to build robot industry

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June 17,2005
The Information and the Commerce ministries said yesterday that they will nurture the nation’s robot industry because it has the potential to grow into a 30 trillion won ($29.7 billion) business by 2013. At a workshop in Seoul on artificial intelligence, the ministries predicted that by 2013, Korea will emerge among the top three nations in robot technology, securing 15 percent of the world robot market, with $20 billion in exports. They also said the robot industry would generate 10,000 jobs in Korea during that period. In a report on the vision and development strategy of the artificial intelligence robot industry prepared by both ministries, the government said it plans to strengthen the development of central robotic technologies by establishing an industry cluster. According to a survey commissioned by the government through a private poll company, Embrain Co., many Koreans see potential in robotics. The poll showed that 54.5 percent of the 1,004 respondents expect robots to become an everyday household product within 15 years, similar to electrical home appliances such as the microwave or the dishwasher. Furthermore, 49.3 percent said that in 20 years, robots and human beings would coexist. Only 5 percent said this would never occur. Among the respondents, 42.2 percent said robots would be mostly used for cleaning houses, while 16 percent said their main task would be running errands. At the workshop, the two humanoid robots developed by Korean science institutes met with 14 participants, including Lee Hee-beom, commerce minister; Oh Myung, science and technology minister, and Chin Dae-je, information and communication minister. Hubo, which is the first humanoid robot developed here, was designed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in December 2004. Mahru, developed by Korea Institute of Science and Technology, came out a month later. Although both humanoid robots walk on two feet, Hubo uses a chip, while Mahru operates through a wireless communication network. by Lee Ho-jeng


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