Thu. Nov 30th, 2023
    South Korea to Issue Licenses for Free-Roaming Robots

    Robots have become a familiar sight in various Asian countries, being employed in hospitals, restaurants, and other establishments. South Korea is now aiming to further integrate robotic free-roaming among pedestrians by “normalizing” their presence. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and National Police Agency have jointly announced the implementation of the revised Intelligent Robot Act, which will allow for the issuance of licenses for free-roaming robots. However, it is important to note that these robots will still require a human operator to accompany them.

    To ensure the safety and regulation of these robots, certain physical limitations have been imposed. The robots must weigh less than 500 kg and have a maximum speed of 15 km/h. Additionally, they must pass a comprehensive 16-point test, which assesses their ability to comply with designated zones, navigate pedestrian crossings, and more.

    Upon passing the test, operators will be granted licenses to use the roaming robots for carrying goods, traversing sidewalks, and accessing areas where robot presence is permitted in South Korea. The need for insurance is also emphasized to provide a sense of security and guarantee compensation in the event of any unfortunate incidents.

    Seoul’s authorities have already revealed an image of what the envisioned free-roaming delivery drones will look like. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy aims to release a High-tech Robot Industry Vision and Strategy by the end of the year, serving as a catalyst for the creation of a new industry centered around outdoor robotics.

    While the Intelligent Robot Act is now in effect, companies involved in robot manufacturing will have to wait as the Ministry takes necessary steps to establish a regulatory body for safety certifications. Simultaneously, the Korea Robot Industry Association is collaborating with private insurance companies to develop new insurance products specifically for robotic operations.

    South Korean authorities assure that all preparations will be completed within the next few weeks. Applications for the regulatory agency will be accepted starting next month, and it is expected that insurance policies will be available in the market by December. These policies will encompass provisions for compensation in case of any harm caused by the robots to humans or property.


    1. What is the purpose of the revised Intelligent Robot Act?

    The revised Intelligent Robot Act in South Korea aims to “normalize” the presence of free-roaming robots among pedestrians by introducing licenses for these robots.

    2. What limits and tests must the roaming robots comply with?

    To ensure safety and regulation, the robots must weigh less than 500 kg, have a maximum speed of 15 km/h, and pass a 16-point test including criteria such as staying within designated zones and navigating pedestrian crossings.

    3. When will the regulatory agency and insurance products be available?

    The South Korean government plans to start accepting applications for the regulatory agency in a month. Insurance policies are expected to be on the market by December.

    4. What will the insurance policies cover?

    The insurance policies will cover compensation in the event that a robot causes harm to humans or property.