Since 2007, the South Korean government has dreamed of Robot Land, a robotics research park and themed destination with rides, exhibitions, shopping, and even housing. Although the originally planned open date of 2012 has come and gone, ground was officially broken for the 300-acre park last year and a new timeline seems to indicate that Robot Land may now be on target to deliver on its promise of a themed world dedicated to robots.
To be located in the city of Incheon in northwestern South Korea, the massive plan promises “Fun and fantasy with robot!” But although the glitzy CGI mockups of robotic carousels and giant statues are enticing, the location is also planned as a research park dedicated to education and innovation, and even promises hotels, condos, and office buildings for those who want to work alongside the robots.
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Kids of all ages can ride a robotic giraffe on a carousel, splash in a water park, or be flung on a coaster by a robotic arm. But the majority of the planned offerings veer more towards edutainment, with a interactive robot aquarium, exhibition halls, and an auto factory that introduces visitors to a robotic automotive assembly line. And to compete with other famous giant Asian robots, earlier park designs included a giant robot-building hybrid in the visage of Taekwon V, a Korean movie character similar in appearance to a Transformer.
But because someone has to do the hard research work to fuel the fun of tomorrow, the park will also incorporate the Graduate School of Robotics, industrial support facilities, and R & D buildings.
While it might be easy to dismiss the project as a novelty or faddish, it’s rooted in the country’s vision of future growth, according to an earlier press release, as robotics are crucial to South Korea’s main industries of flat panel displays, cars, semiconductors, and shipbuilding. With its emphasis on edutainment and exploration of the future, it draws more comparisons to World Fairs of yesteryear, or the Epcot Center in the US.
The new timeline for the complete theme park calls for a gradual rollout, according to the website, with the public interest facilities, such as the exhibitions and theme park opening in 2015, and the full park opening in 2016.
As much of the information on the park’s website is outdated (no doubt related to keeping it translated into four languages) and contains broken email addresses, and given the difficulties the government has had in proceeding with this park, it's easy to remain a little dubious of its long-term success. But should the park open as planned, I hope Gizmag knows exactly who to send to provide a detailed report in 2016.
Below is a concept video of Incheon Robot Land, laden with exciting CGI visualizations and more robots than you can nervously shake a stick at.