As part of its effort to become a world leader in robotics, South Korea will start using robot prison guards next spring. Unlike the deceptively cute Jailbot featured in Superjail!, these R2-D2s with smiley faces are genuinely benign.

Creator Lee Baik-Chul programmed the robots to monitor inmates for abnormal behavior. “But the robots are not Terminators. Their job is not cracking down on violent prisoners. They are helpers. When an inmate is in a life-threatening situation or seriously ill, he or she can reach out for help quickly,” explains Baik-Chul.

The 3 prototypes cost $863,000 so don’t expect robot guards to replace their human counterparts, at least not until they become self-aware.

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