Hospitals in South Korea will use robots from next year to transport materials and assist in patient rehabilitation, it has been announced.

10 to 15 robots will be placed in hospitals to transport supplies and medical devices, while another five to 10 will be used for rehabilitative treatment in state-run hospitals, the Korea JoongAng Daily reports.

The hospital robots are part of the government’s 500 billion won (US$423 million) plan for public service robots, which was announced in October by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. A total of 80 projects will be launched by 2020, the ministry said.

In 2018, the government will introduce up to 10 robots in post offices for transporting and picking up goods. Another three to five surgical robots will be installed in national hospitals the same year.

Meanwhile, robots will help to guide and transport visitors at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

The government will invest 15 billion won (US$12 million) to set up a humanoid robotics research centre at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. The centre, set to open next month, will develop high-speed and high-performance robots, according to Business Korea.

The government will also invest in the private sector to develop robotics. “We will select 10 to 15 research institutions run by the private sector and give up to 10 billion won to each of them to develop robotic technology,” the Korea JoongAng Daily quoted a trade ministry official.

South Korea will also select 15 university research centres and give each 100 to 300 million won (US$84,621 to US$253,785) a year for the next five years.

The final plan for the robotics industry will be launched in February next year by the trade ministry.

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