South Korea unveils armed guard robot for border, critical infrastructure sentry missions

Published 5 October 2006

Wait ‘til Representatives Steve King and Tom Tancredo hear about this: A South Korean consortium develops an armed robot for guard mission along border and around critical infrastructure facilities; the robot can identify moving targets from as far as a mile, and it has ‘ears” which understand passwords

We want to be careful here: A couple of months ago we wrote about Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) who suggested building an electric fence along the U.S.-Mexican border, explaining that such worked well for controlling his herd. So we hope that Representative King does not read the following.

South Korea last week unveiled an armed-guard robot which can be used to detect and suppress intruders along the heavily fortified border between South and North Korea. The Korean Commerce Ministry said the robot, which can fire a machine gun or rubber bullets and sound an alarm when it detects suspicious movement, could dramatically improve surveillance capability. The robot also can distinguish people from moving objects such as vehicles from up to 1.2 miles away in the daytime, and half that distance at night. The robot also has “ears”: When a human being reaches to within ten yards of the robot, the robot’s locks in on the person: If the individual does not shout the correct password at the robot, the machine shoots him.

The South Korean army is already developing military robots which can carry out operations ranging from patrolling and removing land mines to full combat. The South Korean army could use these robots, too: The country’s 650,000 troops face the North’s 1.1-million-strong military, the world’s fifth largest, across the most heavily armed border on Earth. Last month, the Korean Defense Ministry said that robots — along with sensor-activated alarm systems and closed-circuit TV cameras — could be installed along the 155-mile-long border with the North.

With modifications, the robots could also be used to guard civilian installations and facilities such as airports, power stations, oil pipelines, water treatment plants, and more.

The robot was developed by a group of four institutions including Samsung Techwin and Korea University. The development project took three years and about ten million dollars in government and private funds to complete. Each robot costs about $200,000 dollars and the developers hope to sell around $200 million worth of them when they go on sale late next year.