Lim Sung-hyun and Lee Eun-joo
South Korea will purchase and supply 1,000 robotic caregivers next year for distribution to the elderly and those with disabilities for both welfare and industrial promotion.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Monday held a meeting organized by the presidential committee on the fourth industrial revolution and unveiled measures to help create new markets for robotic products.
The ministry will support commercialization and supply expansion of robotic products and market-linked technology development and establish the base for market creation with hopes to nurture the industry to one that spearheads fourth industrial revolution.
Under the latest measures, the ministry will supply about 1,000 robotic devices to three regional governments by next year to boost market entry of robotics products. On a test run, about 350 robot carers will be provided to one of the three regional governments this year while 800 will be given to two other governments next year.
An unnamed official from the industry ministry said that it will introduce institutional foundation to boost utilization of robots by expanding supply.
The ministry plans to boost development of robots that help take care of the socially vulnerable group. It will invest 15.3 billion won ($13.6 million) over the next three years jointly with the welfare ministry to develop robot caregivers for the elderly. It will also promote projects that help boost robot application and supply such as those supporting smart industrial complexes and introducing smart manufacturing facilities.
The industry ministry will also select and exclusively nurture 100 robot companies over the next five years. It will provide up to 1 billion won in funds to each company and carry out preliminary feasibility evaluation.