The Seoul Metropolitan Government has taken a significant stride towards becoming a global robot city with the launch of its ‘Comprehensive Plan for Fostering the Robot Industry in Seoul.’ To lead the era of robot services and prepare for the challenges of an aging society, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will invest 202.9 billion won (158 million USD) by 2026 to foster the robot industry as a future strategic industry.
With a dense population, Seoul has witnessed soaring demand for service robots such as care and delivery robots. The city has identified the potential for convergence and development of these robots with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and information technology. Currently, Seoul contributes 18% of domestic robot industry sales, and this comprehensive plan seeks to bolster this contribution significantly.
In a groundbreaking move, the city has set aside a specialized fund of 200 billion won (156 million USD) to support robot companies. This investment will fuel technology commercialization, development, and market expansion. Furthermore, to foster innovation, the city plans to invest 10 billion won (7.8 million USD) in supporting robot technology development, collaborating closely with private investment institutions to attract investment and establish technology partnerships with major corporations.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government collected opinions from field experts in robots, startups, and large corporations and prepared a comprehensive plan that covers areas that require direct financial input for technology development and demonstration areas that can support companies from the public sector. To this end, by 2026, the city of Seoul aims to:
- Lay the groundwork to support the innovative growth of robot companies
- Introduce and popularize robot services in various industrial sites
- Promote 15 policies in 3 major fields, including creating the ‘Suseo’ robot cluster to enhance the competitiveness of the robot industry.
- A total of 202.9 billion won (2.2 million USD) will be invested for four years to grow and activate robot companies.
Human resources are vital to the plan, and the Seoul Metropolitan Government aims to nurture 700 practical robot talents by 2026. Through initiatives like the ‘Robot Academy,’ which began last year, the city will groom skilled professionals equipped to drive the industry forward.
The plan also focuses on popularizing robot services across various sectors. To address labor shortages in care facilities, the city will support the development, demonstration, and distribution of ‘care robots.’ In August, the Seoul Medical Center will introduce a demonstration service featuring care robots, and the initiative will extend to public medical sites like Seoul Children’s Hospital.
Moreover, libraries, museums, and autonomous districts will be critical for introducing robots. The city plans to invest 1 billion won in two independent districts from next year to support technology development and demonstration projects tailored to these regions.
To cater to diverse needs, the plan aims to expand the use of social robot services, from reading storytelling at daycare centers to assisting the elderly in using smartphones. Additionally, a ‘Robot Artificial Intelligence Science Museum’ will open in March next year, offering a unique platform for experiencing cutting-edge robot technology and envisioning future possibilities.
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