July 14, 2010 09:12
South Korea is trialing a remote-controlled sentry robot capable of carrying out surveillance and combat functions along the military demarcation line.
A military officer on Tuesday said one was deployed last month at a guard post within the demilitarized zone on the central frontline in Gangwon Province. It is a remote-controlled armed robot with state-of-the-art surveillance equipment.
"We're going to deploy such robots at all posts along the DMZ by year's end if the trial operation is successful," the officer said. The military authorities could also deploy them on the five islands near the maritime border in the West Sea.
Equipment consists of a camera, a K-4 high-speed machine gun, and a central control system. Each robot is said to cost about W400 million (US$1=W1,212). The surveillance camera sends images to the command and control room in real time. If it detects an approaching enemy, the robot is activated to fire 40 mm rounds at high speed.
"Armed robots don't judge themselves but are activated by soldiers to fire," the officer said. "The robots will not completely replace all sentry guards along the MDL, but it'll be possible to maintain a high surveillance level with a small number of troops."
The project was initiated after three layers of wire fence were cut in 2004 and a North Korean soldier crossed the DMZ to defect in 2005. The military pledged at that time to develop robot surveillance equipment over five years.
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