The following paper is a “Q&A interview” conducted by Joanne Pransky of Industrial Robot Journal as a method to impart the combined technological, business and personal experience of a prominent, robotic industry PhD-turned-entrepreneur regarding the commercialization and challenges of bringing a technological invention to market. This paper aims to discuss these issues.
The interviewee is Dr Jun Ho Oh, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and Director of KAIST’s Hubolab. Determined to build a humanoid robot in the early 2000s to compete with Japan’s humanoids, Dr Oh and KAIST created the KHR1. This research led to seven more advanced versions of a biped humanoid robot and the founding of the Robot for Artificial Intelligence and Boundless Walking (Rainbow) Co., a professional technological mechatronics company. In this interview, Dr Oh shares the history and success of Korea’s humanoid robot research.
Dr Oh received his BSc in 1977 and MSc in Mechanical Engineering in 1979 from Yonsei University. Oh worked as a Researcher for the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute before receiving his PhD from the University of California (UC) Berkeley in mechanical engineering in 1985. After his PhD, Oh remained at UC Berkeley to do Postdoctoral research. Since 1985, Oh has been a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at KAIST. He was a Visiting Professor from 1996 to 1997 at the University of Texas Austin. Oh served as the Vice President of KAIST from 2013-2014. In addition to teaching, Oh applied his expertise in robotics, mechatronics, automatic and real-time control to the commercial development of a series of humanoid robots.
Highly self-motivated and always determined, Dr Oh’s initial dream of building the first Korean humanoid bipedal robot has led him to become one of the world leaders of humanoid robots. He has contributed widely to the field over the nearly past two decades with the development of five versions of the HUBO robot. Oh led Team KAIST to win the 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) and a grand prize of US$2m with its humanoid robot DRC-HUBO+, beating 23 teams from six countries. Oh serves as a robotics policy consultant for the Korean Ministry of Commerce Industry and Energy. He was awarded the 2016 Changjo Medal for Science and Technology, the 2016 Ho-Am Prize for engineering, and the 2010 KAIST Distinguished Professor award. He is a member of the Korea Academy of Science and Technology.
Pransky, J. (2017), "The Pransky interview: Dr Jun Ho Oh, Professor and Director of Humanoid Robot Research Center, KAIST; Cofounder, Rainbow Robotics Co.", Industrial Robot, Vol. 44 No. 6, pp. 695-699. https://doi.org/10.1108/IR-08-2017-0141
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