Fri. Dec 8th, 2023
    New Regulations Open Doors for Mobile Robots in South Korea, Paving the Way for Innovation

    South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the National Police Agency have recently announced new regulations that allow mobile robots to operate on sidewalks alongside pedestrians. This move marks a significant change in the country’s laws, which previously prohibited the presence of such robots in public spaces.

    To be eligible for operation, mobile robots must meet specific criteria. They need to be insured, weigh less than 500kg, and travel at a maximum speed of 15km/hour. Furthermore, they must undergo a comprehensive 16-point test to ensure compliance with guidelines, including staying within designated zones and safely navigating pedestrian crossings. Upon successful completion of the test, these robots will receive a safety certification.

    While the legal framework now permits robots to intermingle with humans in public areas, it will still take some time before they become a common sight. The Ministry is currently in the process of selecting a governing body for robot certification. Additionally, insurance products tailored to cover potential risks associated with robot operations are being developed by the Korea Robot Industry Association and private insurance companies. These insurance products are expected to hit the market next month, providing compensation in the event of any accidents or harm caused by the robots.

    It is important to note that safety remains a priority for the government and operators of outdoor mobile robots. The operators will be held responsible for adhering to regular traffic laws, ensuring the machines do not pose a threat or inconvenience to pedestrians. Failure to comply may result in fines, just like any other violation of traffic regulations.

    While accidents involving robots do happen, it is essential to remember that these machines are simply following their programming. The blame cannot solely be placed on the robots themselves, especially considering that a significant portion of injuries caused by robot accidents can be traced back to human error.

    Although there may be initial concerns among citizens regarding the presence of mobile robots, South Korea’s government expects them to quickly adapt. Non-humanoid robots are already prevalent in various sectors across Asia, such as restaurants and hospitals. The government aims to foster the development of related industries and encourage new businesses that utilize outdoor mobile robots.

    As South Korea takes steps to embrace robot integration, it is clear that this is just the beginning of a new era of innovation and technology in the country.


    1. How long did it take for mobile robots to be permitted on South Korean sidewalks?

    Until recently, mobile robots were not allowed on South Korean sidewalks. However, with the new regulations in place, they are now permitted as long as they meet specific criteria.

    2. What are the criteria for a mobile robot to operate on sidewalks?

    To operate on South Korean sidewalks, mobile robots must be insured, weigh less than 500kg, and not exceed a speed of 15km/hour. They must also pass a 16-point test to ensure compliance with safety guidelines.

    3. Who will be responsible for the safety of outdoor mobile robots?

    The operators of outdoor mobile robots will bear the responsibility for ensuring the safety of their machines and complying with regular traffic laws. They will be subject to fines if they violate traffic regulations.

    4. Are there any plans for further integration of robots in South Korea?

    Yes, the South Korean government is actively fostering related industries and developing strategies to promote the use of outdoor mobile robots in various new businesses. This indicates that there are plans for further integration of robots in the country.

    5. How are accidents involving robots typically caused?

    While accidents involving robots can occur, it is important to note that the majority of injuries caused by robot accidents can be attributed to human error rather than the actions of the robots themselves. Human programming, operation, or oversight often contribute to accidents.