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Smarter, nimbler robots which are social too

Scientists here are designing robots for complex manufacturing work

Published on Oct 8, 2012 6:00 AM
 
Scientists making better robots include (from left) Dr Han Boon Siew with his black robot Hubo, Dr Tee Keng Peng with his Meka Robot, and Dr Li Haizhou, the department head and principal scientist of the Human Language Technology Department, at A*Star's Institute for Infocomm Research. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

As robots are used more by manufacturers here and elsewhere, researchers here are busy building Singapore's robotics capabilities.

A multi-institute initiative at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) has built robots that can safely work and live side by side with people, learn by watching and even respond to human emotions.

And some inventions, more nimble than conventional industrial automation systems, are already being tested in manufacturing here.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted this trend two weeks ago in a speech at the 80th anniversary dinner of the Singapore Manufacturers' Federation, when he said: "Robots are becoming more sophisticated and flexible, and rapidly doing work which used to be done by human beings on assembly lines."

 
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Background story

BUILT FOR DELICATE TASKS

We haven't tried it with an egg, but that's the next step.

- Dr Tee Keng Peng, a member of the motion control and learning group in the A*Star Social Robotics programme, on a large silver robot with sensors on its hands that allow it to detect the shape and consistency of objects it picks up