In South Korea, it's already unremarkable to see robots cleaning the airport, teaching English and working assembly lines. In 2016, the country sold some 41,000 robots, half as many as China, which has more than 25 times the population. Why is the country such a leader in robotics? Experts point to factors including a post-war focus on the technology sector, an eager consumer base, and even an animist religious tradition that may make the populace more comfortable with non-human intelligences.
This month, the country will demonstrate its robotic prowess by using 85 robots at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. According to South Korea's commerce ministry, the robots will assist athletes, clean venues, provide translation and even ski. Perhaps athletes should worry whether their jobs are next to fall to the coming droid revolution?
Soohorang, the adorable white tiger mascot of the 2018 Olympics, will be present at the Games in robot form. The Soohorang bot will dance, offer translation, provide gesture-based guidance, and snap commemorative photos for fans. The word ‘Sooho’ means protection in Korean; white tigers are considered South Korea’s guardian animal.