Rise of the machines: 5 services being done by robots

Emma, or Expert Manipulative Massage Automation, was officially launched at the clinic's opening on Oct 9, 2017.
Emma, or Expert Manipulative Massage Automation, was officially launched at the clinic's opening on Oct 9, 2017.ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

SINGAPORE - Emma, a robot masseuse, has begun working at NovaHealth Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) clinic at One Raffles Place, doling out back and knee massages, with pinpoint precision and efficiency.

Emma, or Expert Manipulative Massage Automation, was officially launched at the clinic's opening on Monday (Oct 9). It consists of a robotic arm extending from a white machine that is able to provide massages.

Built by AiTreat, a start-up incubated by Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and developed over about two years, Emma massages with soft silicon tips that are warmed to a temperature of between 38 deg C and 40 deg C to mimic human touch.

Here's a look at five other robots which provide services in Singapore.

1. Edgar

As tall as a human and clad in blue-and-white "armour", Edgar was the first robot host of a National Day Parade, co-hosting this year's edition with four other humans at the Marina Bay Floating Platform.

With a crisp and clear voice, Edgar can come up with his own responses to questions posed to him, said his maker, Dr Wong Choon Yue, 39, a research fellow at NTU's School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

2. Coffee shop staff

At FoodTastic productive coffee shop in Choa Chu Kang Avenue 1, robots are hard at work collecting trays and cleaning the floor.

The robot army plying the aisles includes a tray trolley return robot and an automatic floor cleaning robot.

Mr Ricky Kok, managing director of Chang Cheng Group which operates the coffee shop, said the smart technologies will bring customers greater convenience and reduce the need for manpower.

3. Hospi

Developed by Panasonic, this 1.4m-tall robot has been performing the duties of porters at Changi General Hospital since 2015.

It weighs 170kg and can avoid obstacles, take the lift and move from room to room delivering items, all without any human supervision.

4. Techi

Standing at 1.38m tall, the pair of robots are both made of metal and plastic.

 

They were developed by robotics start-up Techmetics, and function on driverless technology.

They can be controlled from a tablet to deliver items, and have been used to deliver duvets, pillow cases and towels at the Park Avenue Rochester Hotel in Buona Vista since July last year.

The hotel's general manager Ryan Sun said it frees the human employees up for tasks such as interacting with guests and inspecting rooms to ensure they are clean and well stocked.

5. Pepper

Developed by Japanese corporation Softbank Robotics, the robot has a touchscreen on its chest.

The 1.2m-tall robot was placed on a six-month trial at My First Skool Jurong Point last year.

Its task there was to read stories to the children.