The next time you find yourself in a South Korean prison (and don't worry, it happens to the best of us), this not especially friendly looking robot is going to be either your new best buddy or your new worst enemy. But probably the latter.
The thing I'm not sure about here is just how complicated this robot looks relative to what it's actually capable of doing. It's huge and presumably very expensive, but aside from a microphone, a camera, some flashing lights, an alarm, and what looks to be an off-the-shelf Kinect sensor, it doesn't seem to really be able to do much. Like, you sort of get the feeling that you could do 90 percent of what this robot does with a Rovio or some other telepresenceplatform.
The sophisticated part might be the software, which looks to be able to analyze behavior and make decisions as to when to alert a human operator that something is up. This is handy, but again, you don't necessarily need something so gigantic and unwieldy to send audio and video back to a computer somewhere that can do the same kinds of things.
The next step is, apparently, a robot that "conducts body searches," which strikes me as an application that could be particularly unpleasant for the end user. But that might be the whole idea, I suppose: how likely are you to try and sneak contraband into a prison if you encounter a robot snapping a latex glove over its steely, probe-like fingers?
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.