South Korea’s domestic robots
June 30th, 2005

The Ministry of Information and Communication of South Korea yesterday unveiled several ubiquitous robotic companion (URC)robots,and will start a feasibility test by releasing 64 dummies to households in Seoul and its vicinity in October.The Korea Times reports.”The ministry embarked on the URC project in 2004 and finished the development of prototypes in just 18 months by deploying an innovative strategy.Instead of pouring money to catch up with sophisticated robots like Japan’s Asimo,arguably the world’s most advanced walking robot,the ministry took a unique approach of using the country’s state-of-the-art Internet infrastructure.Smart robots need three basic functions;sensing,processing and action and robotics researchers have tried to cram the three into a single machine, causing the model’s price to soar.By contrast,Oh’s team braced for a paradigm shift of outsourcing most sensing and processing capabilities by connecting to the high-speed Internet while the moving capability is provided by the robot.“In a nutshell,URC robots just provide hardware with the ability of action while most software comes from the broadband through the wireless Internet.That is the secret how robot prices can go south,’’Oh said.

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