Thursday, January 19, 2006

The robots are coming

Originally uploaded by thunder.
The Korean government is planning to spend $34 million to develop robots for use in security, policing, and military operations. Of course, the US military is already developing robots for the battlefield and the police routinely use robots for demolitions and to carry phones and supplies into hostage situations. What caught my interest is that this article makes explicit that these robots will be connected to a remote sensor network and controlled through a network.

"If the robots prove to be viable technically and commercially, we will be able to begin developing them late next year," said Lee Ho-gil, head of the center.

When completed, the outdoor security robots will be able to make their night watch rounds and even chase criminals, according to Lee.

The government also seeks to build combat robots. They will take the shape of a dog or a horse, with six or eight legs or wheels.

Toward that end, the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) and the Defense Ministry will combine to channel a total of 33.4 billion won ($33.9 million) through 2011.

"The robots will be directed by a remote control system or move autonomously via their own artificial intelligence systems," MIC project manager Oh Sang-rok said.

``The two sophisticated robots will be empowered by the country's state-of-the-art mobile network, thus enabling mass production at an affordable price,'' Oh noted.

Smart robots need three basic functions of sensing, processing and action. Thus far, robotics researchers have tried to cram the three into a single dummy, causing expenses to soar.

Instead, the planned robots will be receiving most sensing and processing capabilities via a Web connection. Only the ability of movement will be located in the robot.

"In a nutshell, the mobile robot offers a hardware platform for the smart functions provided by the country's advanced network connected to the super computers," Oh said.|Korea Times|
This raises security issues to my mind. What happens when some bored teenager hacks the network and sends the computers on a crime spree?

This also reminds me of the PC game Deus Ex where you had to defeat combat robots.

I saw this item both at the Wired GearFactor blog and on Slashdot, which has a moderated forum. If you want to read more discussion about this issue, you can change the forum settings at Slashdot to only show the higher ranked comments.

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