FEATURE

Public Service Robots – Reimagined

Text by Tay Qiao Wei

We have some amazing bot buddies in the service, but most of them still resemble run-of-the-mill machines – metallic, boxy and cold. Take a peek into Challenge’s flight of fantasy as we give them a “makeover” in our heads.

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Building inspector’s buddy - JTC’s QuicaBot

Instead of using basic tools like set squares to detect uneven surfaces indoors, QuicaBot – short for Quality Inspection and Assessment Robot – simply deploys its laser scanners and cameras to do the job in half the time needed by humans. Co-developed by JTC Corporation and the Nanyang Technological University’s Robotics Research Centre, and currently on trial at a JTC building, the 1.8-metre-tall robot can identify other defects like cracks on the walls or hollow tiles. QuicaBot can work up to 36 hours on just a two-hour charge, with no mistakes caused by exhaustion. Expect to see it inspecting new buildings in the near future.

bit.ly/quicajtc

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Passports in a box - ICA’s iCollect

At the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA), iCollect allows visitors to skip the queue and retrieve their new passports with a few biometric checks. Just scan your identity card, thumbprint and face, and get your old passport electronically hole-punched, before the ATM-like machine spits out your new passport. Some people think that there are ICA staff working inside the machine, but iCollect is actually three robotic arms that pick and transport the right passport from a rotating carousel with over 1,500 slots. The robot has to be “fed” with “appointed” passports by the ICA staff the day before.

bit.ly/icollectica

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Guardian of the waterways - NEA’s waterways cleaning robot

In the future, if you see an unmanned boat moving along a canal, clearing litter, it might just be the waterways cleaning robot that the National Environment Agency (NEA) is currently seeking to test bed. This project is the result of a joint call for proposal by the NEA, Ministry of Trade and Industry and SPRING Singapore for innovative solutions to automate the cleaning of waterways – which is currently a laborious process that requires workers on boats to manually scoop up waste. The NEA will evaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of the technology before looking into deployment.

Model machines

Be inspired by these creepily endearing service bots from outside the public sector

HOSPI at CGH

screen-shot-2017-06-30-at-4-00-49-pmDon’t be surprised if a 1.4-metre-tall white droid smiles at you at the Changi General Hospital. HOSPI navigates the compound independently to deliver up to 20kg of medicine, medical specimens and documents to different locations. Besides avoiding obstacles and people, HOSPI can even take the lift on its own and has security features against tampering.


Nadine by NTU

screen-shot-2017-06-30-at-4-00-41-pmWalk in front of Nadine and she can greet you with a wave or shake your hand. Created by Nanyang Technological University scientists, the humanoid has soft skin, brown hair and lips that move when she speaks. She can hold conversations, recognise faces and even remember previous chats. She also expresses emotions – insult her and she gets angry. Her creators hope she can act as a social companion for children or the elderly.

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