Monday, November 13, 2006

in the news

Korea's Bus Fares 4th Cheapest In OECD
[Out of 30 OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) members]
For public transportation, Korea ranked eighth. The base rate for the bus was about $0.88, fourth cheapest among the surveyed nations. Bus fare in Mexico was the cheapest, costing $0.39, while Sweden’s fares were the most expensive, costing $3.55.
Among the 24 countries with a subway system, Korea had fourth cheapest fare, with a basic rate of $0.83. Mexico had the cheapest subway fare, charging $0.39, and Finland’s fare was the most expensive _ $6.13 _ about seven times the cost in Korea.
Taxi fare, however, was not that cheap in Korea coming in at 13th cheapest with a cost of $1.97 on average.
Fuel costs in Korea were also high compared to other OECD members. The price for 1 liter of gasoline in Korea was $1.64, making it the sixth most expensive gas in the
OECD. The cost of gasoline in Turkey was the highest _ $5.25 for a liter _ and gas in Australia was the cheapest, costing $0.34 per liter.
To buy a car with 2000 cc displacement, it cost $14,143, making cars in Korea the fifth cheapest in the OECD. Car insurance cost $571 per year, the fourth-lowest sum. Korea ranked third in car-related categories, indicating that it is relatively easy to buy and maintain cars.
[The Korea Times]

Korean Women Power Ranks 53rd

Robot Maids for Elderly to Make Debut in 2013
Hundreds of Korean scientists are working on developing robots, which will be able to set the table and wash dishes for the elderly, with the aim of finishing the task by 2013.
Kim Mun-sang, a researcher at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Monday said the artificial-intelligence robots will assist senior citizens in various fashions.
"In 2013, a senior citizen will instruct a voice-cognitive robot to order food from a nearby restaurant for dinner then it will follow its owner's words to the letter,'' Kim said.
"Then, the smart robot will take out the dishes and lay the table with the delivered food. Cleaning up the table and washing the dishes will also be up to the mechanical servant,'' the 49-year-old said.
Kim projected the envisioned humanoid, which is likely to move on wheels, will also act as a loyal secretary and close friend of its elderly possessor.
"The cutting-edge robots will be capable of many caregiver tasks like verbalizing scripted reminders _ his or her daily schedule or time to take medicine,'' Kim said.
"Another crucial role of the humanoids is to provide ways out of loneliness, typical for the elderly. For one, they will connect those senior citizens who are Web-illiterate through networks,'' Kim added.
In the first stage, Kim and his 300-plus team plan to create a prototype robot equipped mainly with health-care applications late next year, named H-Robot (healthcare robot) 1.0.
"The wheeled robots will have the ability to measure heart rate and blood pressure, and be able to send the data to a doctor. It will also summon help in an emergency when its owner falls to the floor and doesn't get up,'' Kim said.
"The H-Robot will be upgraded to a 2.0 version the next year and will be able to recognize voices better. It will then undergo feasibility tests regarding healthcare functionalities,'' he said.
Kim has spearheaded the state-funded 10-year project of building "silver robots'' since 2003, geared toward grappling with problems of an aging society.
As the nation's baby boomers become senior citizens, combined with the low birthrate and ever-extended life expectancy, Korea is rapidly turning into an aging society,.
In around 2020, people aged 65 and over are expected to account for more than 14 percent of the population, the milestone of the so-called aged society.
[the Korea Times]

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