...building a humanoid robot that can rival a human both in intelligence and an ability to manipulate the physical world, is by them seen as their Apollo Programme."
South Korea is one of the most connected countries on the planet, and a leading manufacturer of flat screen TV's, smartphones, cars, and ships.
If the Korean government succeeds, it'll become a global leader in the production of robots too. The government is making a big push to develop its advanced robotics industry, including humanoid robots that do a whole lot more than mow the lawn or vacuum the house. There's even plans afoot for a robot theme park, 'Robot Land'; a US$1 billion state-sponsored venture with rides and testing labs set to open in 2016.
Simon Morton recently travelled to South Korea and visited Robot World 2014. It's basically a beauty pageant for the Korean robotics industry, attracting everyone from curious school kids to the military. Part of the proceedings is the HuroCup competition, where robot designers put their humanoid creations to the test in competition in 7 events (sprint, penalty kick, obstacle run, lift and carry, marathon, weight lifting, and basketball), and an all-round competition for the best robot.
Professor Jacky Baltes from the University of Manitoba in Canada is Chair of the HuroCup and he told This Way Up's Simon Morton, "For countries like Korea, Taiwan, China, Singapore, building a humanoid robot that can rival a human both in intelligence and an ability to manipulate the physical world, is by them seen as their Apollo Programme; that is the biggest scientific challenge that they face, the problem that they really want to solve."
Gallery: Robot World 2014