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S. Korea Unveils Armed Robot Guards

South Korea on Thursday unveiled an armed guard robot that it says can be used to detect and suppress intruders along the heavily fortified border between South and North Korea.

The Commerce Ministry said the robot, which can fire a machine gun or rubber bullets and sound an alarm when it detects suspicious movement, could dramatically improve surveillance capability.

The robot also can distinguish people from moving objects such as a vehicles from up to two kilometers (1.2 miles) away in the daytime, and half that distance at night, the ministry said in a news release.

It can identify an enemy up to 10 meters (yards) away through a password, the news release said.

Commerce Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the robot opens a new era because it could replace soldiers in front-line units guarding against any possible aggression from the communist North.

South Korea's army has also said it would start this month developing military robots, which can carry out operations ranging from patrolling and removing land mines to full combat.

South Korea's 650,000 troops face the North's 1.1-million-strong military, the world's fifth largest, across the most heavily armed border on Earth.

Last month, the Defense Ministry said that robots -- along with sensor-activated alarm systems and closed-circuit TV cameras -- could be installed along the 250-kilometer-long (155-mile-long) border with the North.

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