Robot Border Patrol at DMZ


Photo: Samsung Techwin, SGR-1 gun bot

South Korea has begun using robots to survey and, if necessary, fire at intruders crossing the DMZ line from the North. It is operated by soldiers who verify intruders through audio visual equipment. It is designed to “detect threats,” but with the reliance on human operation, there is just as much room for error as a solider standing guard. From the Telegraph:

The 400 million won (£220,000) unit was installed last month at a guard post in the central section of the Demilitarised Zone which bisects the peninsula, Yonhap news agency said.

South Korea is also developing highly sophisticated combat robots armed with weapons and sensors that could complement human soldiers on battlefields.

The robot uses heat and motion detectors to sense possible threats, and alerts command centres, Yonhap said.

If the command centre operator cannot identify possible intruders through the robot’s audio or video communications system, the operator can order it to fire its gun or 40mm automatic grenade launcher.

More from CNET:

Samsung Techwin and other firms developed the SGR-1 robots, and they have been installed on a trial basis at a post in the central part of the Demilitarized Zone, Yonhap news quoted military officials as saying.

The $200,000 SGR-1s are remote-operated sentry bots that work in tandem with cameras and radar systems. They can detect intruders with heat and motion sensors, and challenge them through audio and video communications. The bots can also fire on targets with 5.5-millimeter machine guns and 40-millimeter automatic grenade launchers.

The officials didn’t say how many bots were set up, but they will be installed throughout the 160-mile DMZ if the trial, which runs through the end of this year, is successful. Tensions along the DMZ are already high following the sinking of the South’s warship Cheonan in March.

“Human soldiers can easily fall asleep or allow for the depreciation of their concentration over time,” Samsung Techwin spokesman Huh Kwang-hak was quoted as saying by Stars and Stripes. “But these robots have automatic surveillance, which doesn’t leave room for anything resembling human laziness. They also won’t have any fear (of) enemy attackers on the front lines.”

Huh said the robots cannot automatically fire on targets, and require human permission to attack, adding, “The SGR-1 can and will prevent wars.”