Mobile Sidewalk Robots Approved in South Korea

Under revisions to the country’s Intelligent Robot Act, mobile robots can operate on streets provided they’re insured and only travel at speeds of up to 9 miles per hour

Scarlett Evans, Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

November 21, 2023

2 Min Read
Digital rendering of a potential delivery robot
Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy

Mobile delivery robots could soon be coming to the streets of South Korea, with the nation’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the National Police Agency calling for applications from mobile robot operators for patrol and delivery applications.

Mobile robots have, until now, been banned on sidewalks in the country. However, a recent revision to the country’s Intelligent Robot Act has paved the way for their use, 

Under the new law, these devices can be operated provided they’re insured, weigh less than 1,100 pounds and only travel at speeds of up to 9 miles per hour.

According to a Google translation of the press release, these robots will also have to have their safety “verified in 16 test items, including compliance with operating zones and crosswalk passage.”

The regulatory changes took effect on Nov. 17, when the Ministry of Trade opened applications for mobile robot designs.

The ministry has not yet announced the governing body to be in charge of robot certification, though the Korea Robot Industry Association has been appointed as the agency to develop insurance packages for mobile robots.

According to the press release, the National Police Agency said the safety of pedestrians remained a priority, and that it plans to ensure safety by “imposing an obligation on those who operate outdoor mobile robots to operate the robots accurately and safely.” 

“Outdoor mobile robots, like pedestrians, must comply with road traffic laws, such as prohibiting traffic violations and jaywalking,” the statement said. “If an outdoor mobile robot violates road traffic laws, a fine may be imposed on the operator.”

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said it is preparing a High-tech Robot Industry Vision and Strategy within the year to support the uptake of outdoor mobile robots across industries, as well as a High-tech Robot Regulatory Innovation Plan to improve regulations around robotic deployment.

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About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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