Will artifical intelligence improve human lives? Or will robots become sentient and take over the world?
Whether at the forefront of science and technology, or within the best science fiction and art, humans have long been fascinated with mechanisms created in our image – or to do our bidding.
...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
Five hundred young robot builders from throughout New Zealand have just spent three days doing battle in the National Robot Championships or "Kiwibots" as they're called.
This year the event's been immortalised in a video created by a group of South Auckland youngsters.
David Steemson was there to see the action.
Sixteen-year-old Albany school boy Mark Glover is one of six finalists world-wide chosen in an international Virtual Robot competition. He's planning to be in the US in April to pick up his prize!
Robô by Toyota CC BY-SA 3.0 Chris 73.
Wind-up tin robot toys CC BY SA 3.0 D J Shin.
Shadow Dexterous Robot Hand holding a lightbulb CC BY-SA 3.0 Richard Greenhill and Hugo Elias.
Medical Robot Laparoscopic robotic surgery machine CC BY-SA 3.0 Nimur.
Military Robot: bio-inspired Big Dog quadruped robot PD BY DARPA.