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Robots to the Rescue

 
 
Robots to the Rescue
 
The next time you check in your luggage at Singapore’s Changi Airport, robotic arms could take and load it onto a driverless vehicle, which would then transport the bag to the aircraft.
 
By 2018, one of the airport’s terminals is expected to pilot an almost fully automated baggage transfer system, which would reduce the manpower needed for the process.
 
Robots and autonomous systems that can make airports more “intelligent”, survey disaster stricken zones and save lives – these are the main research focuses at the laboratory managed by School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Nanyang Technological University (EEE@NTU) and Singapore’s ST Engineering group.
 
This innovation is just one of many projects at a S$53 million laboratory managed by EEE@NTU and Singapore’s ST Engineering group. The work is expected to help Singapore and its neighbours cut costs, solve labour shortage problems and boost their economies.
 
The ST Engineering-NTU Corporate Laboratory focuses on two research areas: advanced robotics and autonomous systems to improve airport operations and disaster rescue efforts.
 
In the pipeline, for example, are small robots that can survey disaster-struck areas quickly and help look for survivors. The robots would use on-board sensors to create precise maps of the damaged areas so people can plan safer and more effective rescue missions. They would also be able to enter potentially hazardous environments and search for signs of life.
 
Unlike today’s robots, which must be remotely-controlled, these “smart” robots would be autonomous and enable crisis managers to deploy manpower and resources more productively.
 
The joint laboratory will have more than 100 researchers and staff at full capacity, including PhD students from EEE@NTU and engineers from ST Engineering.
 
The inventions are also expected to be used in healthcare, transport, security and urban development, and help Singapore realise its ambition to be a “Smart Nation” powered by next-generation technology.
 
“The lab aims to be a leading research and development hub for intelligent unmanned systems with the goal to commercialise at least 10 technologies within five years”

By Prof Wang Danwei, School of EEE
 
 
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