In what may be the most stunning humanoid-related announcement of the year, Korean news outlets are reporting that KAIST has sold eight of their full-scale humanoid robots (HUBO 2) to universities in America and Singapore. The eight robots, which are 125cm (4’1″) tall and weigh 45kg (99 lbs), are valued at 3.9B KRW ($3.4M USD). Drexel University is already home to its own HUBO 2, but six more will be added to universities including MIT, Pennsylvania, Purdue, Carnegie Mellon, USC, and Virginia Tech. Singapore’s Institute for Infocomm Research (I²R) purchased the other two robots.
South Korea’s Ministry of Knowledge and Economy has announced a service robot industry promotional plan, which will see a huge investment of $30B KRW ($26M USD) in 2011 alone. The plan focuses on cleaning and educational robots, and will bolster international market penetration, the discovery of new sectors with high growth potential, and the development of better robotics technologies. Part of the plan includes strategic marketing for major territories, such as surveillance robots for the Middle East, healthcare robots for the U.S. and E.U., and cleaning robots for China and Southeast Asia. Furthermore, they’re pushing for more joint R&D projects with Japan, the U.S., and Germany, and will build more robot R&D centers at universities at home.
South Korea wants to grow its global marketshare from 10% to 20% by 2018. The global robotics market currently sits at about $9.4B USD, but is expected to grow to $85B by 2018 as service robots begin to outpace those in the manufacturing sector.