Thu. Dec 7th, 2023
    New Regulation Enables Autonomous Robots to Roam South Korean Sidewalks Safely

    The South Korean government has recently implemented a new regulation that permits authorized autonomous robots to freely operate on the country’s sidewalks, making it a pioneer in embracing this technology. The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy has introduced the Intelligent Robots Act and a set of related regulations to ensure the safe coexistence of pedestrians and autonomous robots.

    Previously, robots were not allowed to navigate sidewalks unaccompanied, requiring constant human supervision. However, this new regulation grants them the freedom to roam independently alongside pedestrians. Under these rules, autonomous robots, including those used for freight services, can weigh up to 1,100 pounds and operate at speeds limited to 9.3 mph, which is comparable to the speed limit for electric wheelchairs.

    To ensure accountability and safety, the operator of a robot will be held responsible for any violations, such as jaywalking or disobeying traffic signs. Additionally, insurance coverage and adherence to safety standards are mandatory requirements for these autonomous robots. The Ministry has cautioned the public to refrain from obstructing or intentionally damaging these robots while also expressing the need for familiarity with their presence.

    This innovative system of autonomous robots holds immense potential for various industries. Particularly in the realm of e-commerce, driverless robots can play a vital role in facilitating last-mile deliveries, meeting the growing demands of online shopping. Furthermore, delivery robots have a global market growth forecast, with Statista predicting an increase from $273 million in 2020 to an estimated $957 million by 2027.

    In addition to its benefits for business operations, the deployment of patrol robots by the National Police Agency in the future may enhance public safety and surveillance. Currently, only a few countries, including the United States and Japan, permit autonomous robots to operate on sidewalks, further highlighting South Korea’s progressive approach.

    As the Ministry envisions, this new regulation will unlock opportunities for innovative services and applications that leverage autonomous robots. For instance, pilot programs are already underway, with autonomous robots patrolling streets to test their effectiveness.


    Q: What is the new regulation implemented in South Korea?
    A: The South Korean government has introduced a new regulation that allows authorized autonomous robots to independently navigate sidewalks.

    Q: What are the limits imposed on these robots under the new regulation?
    A: The regulation permits robots, including freight robots, to weigh up to 1,100 pounds and operate at a maximum speed of 9.3 mph.

    Q: Who will be held responsible if a robot violates any rules or regulations?
    A: The operator of the robot will be held accountable for any violations or misconduct.

    Q: What potential benefits can be expected from this system of autonomous robots?
    A: This innovation is expected to benefit businesses, particularly in the e-commerce sector, by enabling faster and more efficient last-mile deliveries. It may also contribute to increased security through the use of patrol robots.

    Q: Which countries have previously allowed robots to operate on sidewalks?
    A: As of now, the United States and Japan are among the few countries that have permitted the operation of robots on sidewalks.