Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Korean Robot Round-up

SEOUL - With South Korean robot manufacturers vying to unveil new products in the second half of the year, intelligent robots represent a soon-to-be booming industry that could reach 30 trillion won (US$29.7 billion) by 2013 from the current 300 billion won.

Yujin Robotics is planning to release its ICLEBO-Q later this year, a robot-cleaner one step up from predecessor ICLEBO, South Korea's first commercial robot. Meanwhile, LG Electronics Co is back in business with its ROBOKING 2, another cleaning robot priced around 1 million won. The original went on sale two years ago for three times that price before sluggish sales forced LG to pull the plug.

At the high end of the market, veteran player Hanool Robotics is retailing its OTTORO model for 4 million won for consumers who like their robot to self-charge and navigate its way around the interior of their house independently.

IZI Robotics plans to release a robo-puppy in May 2006 that can download content from the Internet. Japan's Sony Corp introduced its puppy robot brand, Aibo, in 1999. Both will encounter competition from lower-priced DASATECH, which plans to jump into the fray for cute, if computer-like, canines next year.

But with some prodding by the government and its policies to buttress the new industry, the demand for personal robots is expected to rise rapidly.

Samsung unveiled 14 robots at an exhibition in Seoul last March and is currently developing a security model as part of the Ubiquitous Robot Companion project organized by the Information Ministry.

While companies like Daewoo Electronics are hesitant, however, saying they will decide in September on the commercial release of a cleaning robot, telecommunication giant KT gave an August date for its household helper managed via the company's wireless Internet service.

While common standards are essential to incorporate different robots with varying electronic devices into the same intelligent network, experts also clamor that they are needed to wipe out cheap models pumped out by countries like China that fail to meet basic criteria.
Reports have it that 10 cleaning robots are being sold on the mainland, most of them copies of well-established models that fall short of their South Korean counterparts in terms of core function.

The South Korean robot industry is in the process of establishing a common technical standard. KAIRA plans to decide a common scheme for network-based intelligent robots, as well as a common technical standard for robots for teenagers by the end of the year.

Asia Times Online :: Korea News and Korean Business and Economy, Pyongyang News


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