Currently, there are over 50,000 robot lovers in Korea according to the Korea Robot Association, but there was not a suitable facility to satisfy the needs of these people. However, as September this year, Robolink, a place where people can have hands-on experiences with robots, came into the picture.
Starting as an online store to sell robots and robot-related items, Robolink has expanded its reach out of the cyberspace to bring our mechanical friends closer to people. Opened in Daechidong, located in the southern part of Seoul, Robolink has enabled robot manias to test the robots before purchasing and educating non-manias to raise interest about robots. Kim Byung-jun, the manager of Robolink says, ?eople do not know how to handle robots before they are educated on how they work. So, we plan to provide programs to help people and even give them a chance to create their own robots.?Then, Kim pointed to a classroom where actual prize winning champions in robot competitions and experts in this field will be teaching with computers specially designed to enable people to program and build their own robots. Here, he introduced a humanoid robot that clapped and folded its hands into a shape of a heart; its joints were connected with actuators and motors that enable motion which can be programed so it may do whatever the owner pleases.
In the middle of the shop is an area dedicated to free maneuvering of robots. This space is crowded with electronically charged figurines made by robot companies, and individuals. Here, people can see and try out many different types of robots. One example is the ?ino?which is considered as a basic model of a human type robot with light and sound sensors. This model is also well known in Korea for its appearance as a bringer of love for two people on a music video of the famous Korean singer, Shin Hye-sung, ?irst Love.?Turning to the corner, there was a square box which was divided into four equal sections. This space is to train robots for battle robot competitions. It is made exactly in the size of real competition stages and will someday be used as a base for preliminary competitions. This equipment is connected to a video and sound system to record the performance of each robot. Two combat robots could also be met here of which the first was a robot model that can distinguish colors and follow designated color-coded roads. Shin Kwang-su, the PR reporter of Robolink, says, ?obots are not designed to technologically overpower humans but to assist us. (Holding the mentioned model) This robot is used when a job is dangerous for humans to undertake, for example, when toxic waste needs to be dumped or the skill to follow a designated path is needed.?The second model is a robot that can find its way through a maze. It has extra sensitive sensors that protect it from running into any dead ends or crashing into walls.
The biggest portion of the facility was devoted for future chain store owners of Robolink to see how everything will be placed. It also served as a place in which people could buy robots and souvenirs. The area was filled with not only the fancy robots mentioned above but scale models of Gundam, a popular robot cartoon in Korea during the 1980s, vacuum cleaner robots, and a kit that may build over 60 types of different robots. ?p to the current generation, people had a tendency to think that robots are always in human form and they become disappointed at the fact that most robots are actually not. However, with this kit that can create over 60 types of different robots according to how it is assembled, people can create robots that they have dreamed of,?says Shin.
To visit Robolink, get off at Hanti station, exit number 2, and go straight until Cafe Pascucci can be seen; it is in the basement floor of the building. Education programs to build and manuever robots will be starting at the end of October.
Photo by Kim Han-nah
Photo by Kim Han-nah
Exhibits at a hands-on robotic discovery center, allow visitors to experiment for themselves.