Singapore Budget 2016: More than $450 million to support National Robotics Programme over next 3 years

Robots operating on solar panels at the module production line at REC Solar ASA manufacturing facility in Tuas.
Robots operating on solar panels at the module production line at REC Solar ASA manufacturing facility in Tuas. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The National Robotics Programme, which was announced last year (2015), will be scaled up this year with the announcement of more than $450 million to support it over the next three years.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat made the announcement in his Budget speech on Wednesday (March 24) as he spoke about industry-level transformation.

Developing and deploying new technologies to solve problems that are relevant for the entire industry can drive industry-level transformation, he said.

Robotics technology can enable us to work more effectively in a tight labour market, and can also create more high value-added jobs, he added.

Keeping that in view, the ministry will work with solution providers to offer packaged solutions to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) at a reasonable cost.

Robotics and automation technology can be applied widely to transform sectors such as healthcare, construction, manufacturing and logistics.

Using the example of robotics in the healthcare industry, Mr Heng said the technology is being used in pharmacies in hospitals to pick medication accurately and quickly, which frees up time for staff to give advice on the medication.

Autonomous transporters are also being used to move supplies efficiently in hospitals.

Power-assisted bed transport technologies to reduce the manual effort in moving patients are also being tried out, he said.