Robot cleaner and painter for high-rise buildings to give productivity and safety a boost

ST VIDEO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Robots may soon take over cleaning and painting high-rise buildings here, thanks to a new automated gondola system co-developed by Singapore electronics company ELID Technology International and Nanyang Technological University.

Called the OutoBot, the locally-built system will improve productivity while enhancing workplace safety.

For the washing or painting of a building facade, a team of five is usually required - two on the ground and roof top, and three cleaners or painters on the gondola.

Instead, OutoBot requires only two workers - one operator on the ground and one acting as a safety officer.

It has a robotic arm equipped with a camera and a spray nozzle that can shoot high-pressure water jets to clean surfaces or to spray paint.

No painters or cleaners are required to be on the system's specially-built gondola, hence mitigating any safety risks.

The robot was developed in response to a call for proposals from the Housing Board to automate the painting of building facades, so as to enhance worker safety and productivity.

It will be tested on selected public housing blocks in consultation with HDB.

Through the trials, HDB will work with ELID to refine or customise the robot's design to better suit its building designs and facades.

Managing director of ELID Technology International, Mr Dennis Lim, who first came up with the idea of the robotic system, said it would tackle productivity issues for painting buildings.

"With Singapore's rapidly ageing workforce, we need to find ways to enable our employees to continue contributing despite their advanced years," Mr Lim explained.

"Using our new robot, we have shown that a labour-intensive job can be transformed into one that can be easily done by an older worker, and at the same time eliminating the risk of employees having to work at heights."