Robot guards being tested in South Korea

April 18, 2012 by Bob Yirka weblog

( -- South Korea, a nation with a self-proclaimed goal of being a leader in robotics technology has, through the Asian Forum of Corrections (AFC), begun testing the feasibility of using robots as prison guards in an actual prison in Pohang. The robots’ duties, at least initially, are to patrol the halls between cells looking for signs of trouble, and if it finds it, alert the human guards who will take appropriate action.

The , called Robo-Guard by many in the press, is equipped with several cameras, one of which is 3D, microphone, speaker and circuitry and software that allow it to roam autonomously in predefined areas within the prison. It also has software that allows it to analyze behavioral characteristics of to help in deciding whether to alert the human guards. Its main purpose, according to the AFC, is to reduce manpower costs in prisons and to make a safer environment for both inmates and those that guard them.

It also appears that the South Korean government, which has paid for the development of the robots, is using its prison population as a test ground for bolstering its in general. After all, most, if not all of what these new robots do could just as easily be done by installing cameras in every hall and cell and connecting them to a computer that does the processing. But, because the testing is done in an environment where test subjects don’t have the option of objecting, research can be carried out that would not be possible in any other environment.

The video will load shortly

In addition to patrolling the halls, the robots are also able to serve as wireless two-way communications devices, allowing inmates and guards to communicate without the guard having to leave the command center. The human guards can also manually control the actions of the robots using an iPad application.

The current test trial, which employs the use of three robots, is set to run for just one month and to cost a little over three quarters of a million dollars; at the end of which, researchers and politicians presumably will determine if the idea is feasible and whether the program ought to become permanent. If it does, the AFC has said they’d like to get the robots to one day perform body searches, though it’s not likely they would be capable of searching body cavities, instead they would perhaps be able to frisk inmates randomly, which likely would reduce the number of homemade weapons inmates use to harm one another or their guards.

Explore further: Robot guards to patrol South Korean prisons

Related Stories

Robot guards to patrol South Korean prisons

November 24, 2011

Robot guards with sensors to detect abnormal behaviour will soon begin patrolling South Korean prisons to ease the burden on their human counterparts, researchers said Thursday.

Study says few prisoners contract HIV

April 21, 2006

A study refutes the widely held perception that blames U.S. prisons for the spread of the AIDS epidemic, saying very few prisoners acquire the virus.

Kilobots bring us one step closer to a robot swarm

June 17, 2011

( -- When you think about robots, the odds are that you think about something that is fairly large. Maybe you picture a robot arms bolted to the floor of a factory or if you are feeling particularly dramatic maybe ...

Japanese Firms Start Testing Robots In Office Buildings

February 7, 2009

( -- It may not be too long before visitors are greeted by a robotic receptionist in Japanese Smart Office Buildings. Shimizu Corp and Yasukawa Electric Corp have opened the "Smart Showroom" that is part of the ...

Recommended for you

Tech titans join to study artificial intelligence

September 29, 2016

Major technology firms have joined forces in a partnership on artificial intelligence, aiming to cooperate on "best practices" on using the technology "to benefit people and society."

US prepares to cede key role for internet

September 29, 2016

The US government is set to cut the final thread of its oversight of the internet, yielding a largely symbolic but nevertheless significant role over the online address system.

MIT's flea market specializes in rare, obscure electronics

September 25, 2016

Once a month in the summer, a small parking lot on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's campus transforms into a high-tech flea market known for its outlandish offerings. Tables overflow with antique radio equipment, ...

First test of driverless minibus in Paris Saturday

September 24, 2016

The French capital's transport authority will on Saturday carry out its first test of a driverless minibus, in the hope that regular routes for the hi-tech vehicles will be up and running within two years.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 18, 2012
This is excellent news for the profit driven U.S. prison system.

Not only will they be able to lower costs by firing staff, but they should be able to accommodate several million more Americans in their American Gulag.
3 / 5 (6) Apr 18, 2012
Profit driven prison system? Are you an idiot? Tax payers pay for prisons in the US and they are anything but profitable... jesus you are a nutjob.

(there are a TINY handful of private prisons, they are inconsequential compared to the rest of the publicly funded prison system)
4 / 5 (4) Apr 18, 2012

Isn't it interesting that America's Gulag has exploded from 500,000 inmates to 2,500,000 inmates since the expansion started during the Republican administration of Ronald Reagan.
2.6 / 5 (5) Apr 18, 2012
Yah, Scott. One wonders how you've remained at large. I guess there's an up-side to never leaving your mom's basement.
3 / 5 (4) Apr 18, 2012
Perhaps it is because we socialists are free. Unlike our American counterparts.

"One wonders how you've remained at large" - jscroft
5 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2012
The downside to this is if they do have a prison break, less manpower available for containment.
3.5 / 5 (6) Apr 19, 2012
The downside to this is if they do have a prison break, less manpower available for containment.

The upside to not having guards around is that is you can handle a prison break the same way you handle emergency containment in an infectious disease lab... incineration using thermobarics
2.6 / 5 (5) Apr 19, 2012
Perhaps it is because we socialists are free.

Quote of the year, right there. Holy Cow.

Scott, you moron, kindly explain how having somebody else make all your important decisions for you equates with freedom?

Mmmm, on second thought, just... just don't.

@Deathclock: a thousand times yes.
1 / 5 (1) Apr 19, 2012
Well if they know the robot will explode, and they can't bartar with robots like terrorists the prisoners will stay put. LOL
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 20, 2012
Here in the Socialist states where there is less corporate control over the state there is actually more freedom to make your own choices, since they aren't constrained by laws created by corporations for corporations.

In addition, here in the socialist states we are free to walk the streets without fear, day or night.

I generally keep my home unlocked, and the front door open in the summer - even while I sleep.

Here in the Socialist States we have a lower rate of murder, violent assault, and a lower probability of being arrested and jailed, unlike the American Population in which has over 7 million of it's citizens eiter in prison (2.5 million), or on probation, or criminal supervision.

Here in the socialist states we are generally free from concern about the quality of our food, or the quality of our water.

"Scott, you moron, kindly explain how having somebody else make all your important decisions for you equates with freedom?" - Jsccrof
4 / 5 (4) Apr 20, 2012
Unlike America we generally don't have massive food recalls due to contamination let through due to the American inspection systems where corporations are permitted to inspect themselves.

Here in the socialist states we can travel freely without an American modeled FatherLand security force touching our genitals, forcing us to remove our shoes or strip naked.

Here in the socialist states we don't fear losing our life savings and our homes due to illness, unlike our American Counterparts.

Here in the socialist states we don't fear becoming homeless and destitute as American's do.

In general, here in the Socialist States we are not ruled by all manner of fear, whereas fear is clearly one of the prime motivating factors for Americans, and one that makes them so easily manipulated by their corporate masters.

1 / 5 (1) Apr 21, 2012
I, Robot.
1 / 5 (1) Apr 21, 2012
This is stupid, why not put cameras in each cell with a central computer. looks slow and cumbersome, Id rip the dam head right off!
5 / 5 (4) Apr 22, 2012
@deathclock, the American prison system is paid for by American tax payers but the majority of the prison system is run by private corporations, funded by those tax dollars. It is very much a profit driven enterprise.
1 / 5 (1) Apr 24, 2012
That robot is nowhere near intimidating enough - they need a Terminator-style unit with battle-armor alloy and onboard tasers that can activate if the robot is so much as touched by an inmate.
not rated yet Apr 25, 2012
The downside to this is if they do have a prison break, less manpower available for containment.

The upside to not having guards around is that is you can handle a prison break the same way you handle emergency containment in an infectious disease lab... incineration using thermobarics

Ahh very true haha! Hopefully means its less likely they'll have hostages from downed guards too.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.