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Korea announces regulatory innovation for high-tech robot industry 2023-03-07

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced on March 2 the regulatory innovation measures for Korea’s high-tech robot industry at the 3rd Regulatory Innovation Strategy Meeting held at the Metaverse Hub in Pangyo to swiftly implement aggressive deregulation for creation of new businesses, in view of the robot industry’s capacity to enhance productivity, prevent manpower shortage and generate new future industries.

The regulatory innovation measures will center around four core areas (mobility, safety, collaboration/assistance, infrastructure) related to new businesses, and were narrowed down to 51 key tasks, 39 of which are to be speedily implemented by 2024 through participation and collaboration of various relevant ministries.

The High-Tech Robot Regulatory Innovation Measures can be outlined as follows:

1)Expand robot mobility

Autonomous transportation technology is serving as a platform in introducing a wide variety of businesses in delivery, patrol and disease prevention. As diverse services are anticipated to cover both short and mid-to-long distances in the near future, systemic improvements are needed to enhance robot mobility.

MOTIE is to amend Korea’s Intelligent Robots Act by the end of 2023 and newly establish the definition and safety standards for outdoor mobile robots. The National Police Agency (NPA) has been given the task of amending road transportation laws until the same deadline to allow robots passage on pedestrian walkways.

The Personal Information Protection Commission is to prepare the legislation of new laws by end of 2023, allowing autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to collect images and other data of surroundings and unspecified persons during transport without need for individual consent on condition of providing prenotification and safety precautions.

By end of 2023, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) is to include robots among “means of delivery” in parcel and package forwarding services currently restricted to trucks and two-wheeled vehicles. The Ministry of the Interior and Safety (MOIS) will push the amendment of enforcement ordinances of outdoor advertisement management, while the NPA is to push for patrol robots to carry police equipment by the end of 2024.

2)Accelerate robots’ entrance into safety services market

Regulatory improvement is necessary to enable robots to assist and replace human activities in construction, maritime and firefighting worksites to mitigate the risk of dangerous work.

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) and Korea Coast Guard (KCG) are to amend marine pollution response registration standards by the end of 2024 to allow underwater cleaning robots to assist in oil spill recovery work, and establish domestic standards in alignment with International Maritime Organization (IMO)’s amendments to allow robots to aid in hull cleaning.

By the end of 2024, the National Fire Agency (NFA) is to conduct a deliberation for new firefighting technologies and products following a safety review to allow the use of patrol robots equipped with fire extinguishers in fighting fires.

3)Support development of robot services involving human-robot collaboration and robot assistance

Full assistance is to be provided for growth of the robot services industry in numerous different vocations, including manufacturing, cooking, farming and rehabilitation.

By the end of this year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) is to establish qualification standards for selecting transport and harvesting robots as new technology-applied agricultural machinery.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) will be incorporating new criteria into sanitation grading by the end of this year so that restaurants utilizing safe and hygienic robots will be duly evaluated. Meanwhile, MOTIE will be establishing safety standards for mobile cooperative robots to allow robotic arm motions while moving.

4)Expand shared infrastructure to usher in new robot businesses

By the end of this year, Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) is to establish standards for testing battery safety for electric vehicle charging robots, as well as a safety control system for managing robot accident insurance.

MOTIE and MOLIT are to lay the foundation for robot-friendly smart building infrastructure by 2024.

Public Procurement Service will need to establish the grounds regarding innovative product designation with respect to robots, while the Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL) will be strengthening the robot industry ecosystem by creating the National Technical Qualification Industrial Engineer qualification by end of 2024.

MOTIE will be inspecting the development progress on a regular basis through public-private joint committees, the Prime Minister’s Office and inter-ministerial channels to produce outcomes that companies find helpful, while also continuously seeking out new improvement tasks through close communication with industries in order to quickly respond to the rapidly shifting market situation.

MOTIE expects that the “High-Tech Robot Industrial Strategy 1.0” (tentative) will be announced around April this year.