Robot World 2007 has come to a close, finishing on October 21. According to attendants to the conference, it was the largest and most impressive robotics exhibition to date. This year, Robot World 2007 incorporated a combination of several disparate robotics events -- the International Robot Industry Show, the International Robot Contest, and the Korea Robot Conference. They were integrated seamlessly into one grand event.
There were generally three categories of robots at the conference. The first category was the most well-known, industrial robots. Established and famous companies in the industrial robotics industry such as Robotech Co., Ltd, Robostar Co., Ltd., showed their highly sophisticated robotic arms used for automobile manufacturing.
The second category of robots was toys. There were companies such as miniRobot Corp, which has developed educational robotics systems for the young. Another similar company was Microrobot Co., Ltd., which specializes in educational and personal robots. From small robotics dogs, to robotic teddy bears, and even a robotic dragonfly that actually flies, the conference was a haven of fun for children of all ages. There was also a company called Robotis, which showed off its quite impressive human-form robots called Cycloid Humanoids.
The third category of robots was personal assistance robots. Called Ubiquitous Robotic Companions, or URCs, these robots are being pushed by the same companies and governmental bodies who are pushing for the whole Ubiquitous experience for the future of Korea. Entire example living rooms were set up in order to show how these small mobile trash canshaped robots could help people.
However, it looked like they would spend a lot of time underfoot and not so much time making life easier. It seemed that their functionality was limited to acting as a very large voice-activated remote for the television and an automated vacuum cleaner.
It could be said that there was a fourth category of robots at the conference -- android robots. These were highly experimental robots that attempted to look as human as possible. The Albert Hubo robot developed by KAIST was on hand, and even participated in the tape-cutting ceremony. There were also mockups of mannequin- like robots with plastic faces which looked like they could be Korean pop stars.
Matthew Fisher, founder of Kumotek of Lewisville, Texas, compared what he saw at Robot World 2007 with his experience in Japan by saying: "This is my first time in Korea, this time. My opinion of how Korean robotics compares to Japan is based only on my trip here today. But I am amazed; I am completely set aback, more so than I thought I would be, at the enthusiasm here, at the quality of the robots that I've seen."
In another hall, there were very interesting robotics competitions set up for the International Robot Contest. In one arena, remote-controlled robots fought to push each other into small pits. It may sound tame but there were the sound of metal tearing against metal, the flash of sparks, and the cheer of a bloodthirsty, or oilthirsty, crowd.
Another, tamer competition involved about one thousand elementary and middle school students. They used robotics kits to build their own robots for one purpose -- picking up tennis balls. The robots had a competition to pick up tennis balls and put them into specially designated tennis ball troughs, directed by their child masters. The best designs which could pick up more tennis balls faster would be able to compete for a grand prize.
When it was all over, officials counted more than 75,000 people who came to the four days of Robot World 2007. Ninetyfour exhibitors opened up a total of 486 booths to showcase their new products and ideas. On the more serious side, around 3,000 illustrious robotics scholars from 26 different countries attended the Korea Robot Conference 2007.