Robotic suit takes the load off firefighters

With experts in fields as diverse as forensics, biometrics and robotics, the new Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX) has placed itself firmly in the front line when it comes to keeping the nation safe. Health and science editor Chang Ai-Lien gets an exclusive look at the agency's high-tech methods of solving crime, saving lives and safeguarding borders.

A member of the Singapore Civil Defence Force wearing an air-powered exoskeleton suit, believed to be the first of its kind in the world. It allows firefighters to carry heavy equipment of up to 40kg up multiple flights of stairs, and works in high h
A member of the Singapore Civil Defence Force wearing an air-powered exoskeleton suit, believed to be the first of its kind in the world. It allows firefighters to carry heavy equipment of up to 40kg up multiple flights of stairs, and works in high heat as well as wet conditions. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS

It has been four years of trial and error, accompanied by much heartache, for the man who breathed life into an outfit right out of the pages of a Transformers comic - one which makes firefighters stronger, faster and more agile as they battle the flames.

But creating the exoskeleton from scratch has also been immensely rewarding for Mr Cheng Wee Kiang, director of robotics, automation and unmanned systems capability development at HTX.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2019, with the headline 'Robotic suit takes the load off firefighters'. Subscribe