SINGAPORE - Cleaners keeping stations along the Circle Line spick and span now have a troop of 13 robots to lend a helping hand.
The robots, which will be shared between two to three stations, can clean large floor areas up to three times faster than their human counterparts.
The high-tech move is not aimed at replacing cleaning staff, but will free up time for them to improve their skills, transport operator SMRT said on Wednesday (Feb 3).
Cleaners will be trained to manage several of the robots, in turn allowing them to perform other duties such as cleaning toilets and platform screen doors and disinfecting high-contact touch points.
They will also be trained to troubleshoot minor issues the robots might meet, such as obstacles.
Around 30 cleaners have been trained so far.
SMRT trialled different cleaning robots between May and September last year before deploying nine from Canadian firm Avidbots, two from local company LionsBot and two from China's Gaussian Robots.
It has plans to eventually deploy cleaning robots at all stations along the North-South and East-West Lines as well.
The firm will also roll out smart panels and ammonia sensors in toilets at its MRT stations that can indicate when a toilet is more heavily used and requires cleaning.
SMRT Trains president Lam Sheau Kai said: "The pandemic has led many to better appreciate the benefits of a high standard of cleanliness and hygiene in public areas.
"SMRT strives to meet that standard by leveraging technology and automation and to better utilise limited resources, thereby optimising cost."
Cleaner V. Ganesan Velu, a senior supervisor with A-Force Maintenance, one of SMRT's cleaning contractors, said working alongside a robot was a breeze. "After getting the training, I could operate the robots easily; these new skills will be useful for my future (career) progression," he said.