South Korea to introduce robot prison guards

After locking up time, the bots start rolling down the corridors...
Darren Allan

November 25, 2011
Korean Robot Guard

In another step towards our inevitable future as a civilisation who invents robots and then artificially intelligent machines which will eventually overthrow us, South Korea has had the bright idea of bringing in robot guards to patrol prisons.

These are not, you’ll be pleased to know, vicious armed bots who give inmates 20 seconds to comply with instructions or face a lethal hail of lead. Or South Korean prisoners will certainly be pleased to know that, anyway.

They are, in fact, friendly robots who are there to help the prisoners should they have a problem, as well as keep an eye on them.

To emphasise their friendliness, the designers have built them with big chunky white and yellow bodies, and big smiley type robot faces.

That’s all well and good, although it does rather mean that in reality they look like the illegitimate offspring of a C5 and a Teletubby. We’d have gone for the classic metallic skull and glowing red eye look ourselves.

The robot scheme is set to be trialled in a jail in the city of Pohang, and is costing around half a million quid.

The robot guards will help out on night patrol duties, gliding along the corridors and scanning cells with an array of sensors which can detect any suspicious activity. People chiselling away at walls and hastily covering up the results with posters, for example.

Apparently with multiple sensors they can manage a much better job of monitoring than CCTV cameras. And, of course, they’re a lot cheaper to employ than humans in the long run…

Should inmates have any problems in the night, the idea is they can elicit the help of a bot to get some attention. The robot can then go and get a human warden, hopefully not running over and crushing the inmate’s leg in the process.


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