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Robots kick and splash at Korea's Yeosu Expo

A robot collection at this summer's exposition in South Korea offers lots of entertainment. Crave's Tim Hornyak drops in on dancing bots, fish bots that shoot light beams from their snouts, and more.

A presenter hauls a robot fish out of a tank at the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering pavilion.
Tim Hornyak/CNET

YEOSU, South Korea--I'm a sucker for world fairs. They sell dreams and I'm ready to buy.

In 2005, the Aichi Expo in Japan sucked me in like a giant Roomba and I became hooked on its fantasy of a greener, robot-filled future.

That dream hasn't come true, but I still couldn't keep away from this year's small-scale expo here in Yeosu, South Korea, where robots are also reeling in the masses.

Some 190 miles south of Seoul, the coastal fair has seen enormous lines in the 100-degree heat. Still, visitor numbers are lower than expected and critics have called the show, which is themed on ocean biodiversity, boring and disappointing.

I was underwhelmed by most pavilions I managed to get into, but a robot exhibition put together by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, one of the world's largest shipbuilders, was worthwhile.

It has more than 70 bots on display or waiting in the wings -- mostly foreign machines but a few Korean ones too.

The more impressive ones were domestic, created by groups like the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) and the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (Kitech).

They fielded the expressive robotic head Mero and the talking humanoid EveR-4, while DARwin-OP, the pint-size humanoid made by Korea's Robotis, was on hand kicking a ball around.

A school of robot fish, apparently developed by Daewoo, has been thrilling thousands of kids with realistic swimming, silvery scales, and laser-like navigation beams.

It's all great entertainment; fairs, after all, are for kids.

If just a fraction of those children get inspired to become engineers, then expos like Yeosu are well worth it. Otherwise, they're just mirages of the future.

To check out more images from robots at the 2012 Yeosu Expo, click on the gallery below.