Cleaning robots that can sing, rap, wink, joke set to roll out in Singapore by March

If you run into a robot around Singapore sometime next year, no need to panic, the robot revolution isn’t here … yet. In fact, the ones you cross paths with might even set your mind at ease with a gentle wisecrack.

At least that’s the plan for the 500 robots set to begin sweeping, vacuuming and mopping up at locations around the city-state by next March.

Created by local firm LionsBot, the robots have been programmed to sing, rap, wink and joke with whoever they detect in front of them. They can even interact with humans who scan their QR codes, it was revealed at a press conference introducing the bots yesterday.

You may not have spotted them yet, but two robots launched in April have already begun their cleaning duties. One is scrubbing floors of the National Gallery and the other is clearing garbage at Jewel Changi Airport, Koh Poh Koon, senior minister of state for Trade and Industry, said at yesterday’s event at Gardens by the Bay.

Four different robots were demonstrated in front of the press. One of them was the LeoPull, which five engineers had stood on to demonstrate the robot’s ability to transport heavy objects.

Engineers demonstrate the LeoPull at a press event at Gardens by the Bay on Jul 17, 2019. (Photo: Coconuts Singapore)
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Engineers demonstrate the LeoPull at a press event at Gardens by the Bay on Jul 17, 2019. (Photo: Coconuts Singapore)

The robots, prototypes of which were completed last year, use artificial intelligence to work together and coordinate their tasks without human supervision.

A team of more than 30 engineers are working on the robots — from developing a cloud platform to 3D prototyping to manufacturing — with an eye to producing four a day, LionsBot said.

Thirteen different models will be created, with each performing a specific task. The four under the LeoBot Family Series can scrub, vacuum, mop and transport up to 450kg of cleaning equipment respectively.

A LeoBot is 63cm wide, can navigate through doorways and tight corridor spaces, make 180-degree turns and a turn in a radius of 1.2 meters, the company said.

The robots aren’t for sale, but will be available for rent by companies at monthly fees ranging from S$1,350 (US$990) to S$2,150 — that covers maintenance as well.

Six cleaning companies have inked deals so far, with Chye Thiam Maintenance and Absolute Maintenance Services already on board as launch partners.

Other models include the LeoPod family series, designed for open spaces like mall atriums, and the LeoPod X, which function better outdoors where they might encounter ramps or speed bumps.

Once a company strikes a rental agreement, a mapping robot is sent to the location to map the site and store data on a cloud platform, which then shares it with the cleaning bots.

Companies will also have their staffs undergo a six-hour training program to learn how to operate the robots.

Led by a husband-and-wife team Dylan Ng and Michelle Seow, Lionsbot has been managing cleaning equipment and chemical supplies company SuperSteam Asia Pacific since 2002.

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