Not that soldiers on the North Korean side of the demilitarized zone can read this tale of Western decadence, but if they could they would do well to take note: South Korea has deployed two $334,000 robotic sentries armed with automatic weapons and 40-millimeter grenade launchers along the tense border region bisecting the Korean peninsula.
The robots are fitted with surveillance equipment, tracking and voice recognition systems, and heat and motion detectors that can identify threats approaching from the other side. If they prove successful they could be deployed along the entire DMZ, augmenting South Korea's strong military presence already in place.Upon sensing a threat, the robots alert a command center where a human operator uses the 'bot's audio and visual detectors to try to identify the nature of the threat. The operator can then give the robot the order to either stand down or unleash its arsenal.
Pyongyang, as you may have heard, is quite proud of its military image and maintains a standing army of more than a million soldiers, whereas South Korea has a force of just 655,000. As such, South Korea plans to bring more robots into its arsenal in coming years, including robots armed with sophisticated sensors and weapons that could bolster its numbers on the battlefield.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.