Today the US Postal Service announced drastic service changes in order to preserve the pensions of its overpriced, exploding, workforce. In this world of budget cutting, robots make a lot of sense. The question is not one of capability, but when and how much do we trust our lives in mechanical hands.
Last week, the South Korean city of Pohang announced its plans to implement a month long trial of three RoboCop-like wardens for its city prisons. The machines will be on the lookout for any “abnormal behavior”, reducing the workload of its human guards. The initial versions look very different than RoboCop, standing at just 5 feet tall with cameras, sensors and four wheels to rapidly move in when situations turn violent.
According to the designer of the program, Prof Lee Baik-Chu of Kyonggi University, the robots will alert human guards before taking matters into their own ‘hands.’ The cost of the one month trial is just under $1 million. This sounds high, but think of the long term savings – no unions, health insurance, pensions and more efficient workforce.
This could be the key reason why South Korea aims to be the leader of robotics, with a record 75% growth in the past year. Recent inventions include: robotic surveillance systems, humanoid Hubo robots, robotic gun turrets, robotic teaching assistants, and even robotic sales associates that bows to customers. The biggest announcement by the government was their intention to build a Robot Land theme park that is estimated to garner close to 3 million visitors a year. Watch out Mickey, because these South Korean bots got your number.