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Ngee Ann Polytechnic Launches Robotics Research & Innovation Centre

The Robotics Research & Innovation Center will advance applied research in the field of robotics, provide learning opportunities for NP students, and work with SGInnovate to nurture deep tech talent through a new Specialist Diploma in Robotics Engineering.

Companies looking to streamline their business processes can get greater access to customised robotics solutions to accelerate growth at Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s (NP) Robotics Research & Innovation Centre (RRIC).

The centre was officially launched in October by Guest-of-Honour Mr Tung Meng Fai, Director (Ecosystem Development) at the National Robotics Programme. Located in NP’s TechSpace@8, RRIC brings together NP’s multidisciplinary expertise in infocomm technology, engineering, health and life sciences, to advance capabilities in the key areas of Service Robots, Autonomous Vehicles, Autonomous Underwater/Marine Vessels and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

The RRIC will provide a platform for industry players to share problem statements and collaborate with it to develop and trial new solutions. NP staff and students will also get opportunities to work on deep tech projects. It underscores NP’s commitment to nurturing a strong pipeline of robotics talent, and ensuring that staff stay abreast of industry needs, following the launch of the Future City Programme in 2019.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the need for digital transformation and innovation, the RRIC is seeing an increased demand for tailor-made robotics solutions. With extensive experience in developing robotics solutions since 2014, NP is well-positioned to partner [with] our industry stakeholders to co-create and deploy innovative solutions. The launch of the RRIC is a testament to our commitment to prepare our graduates for the future and accelerate Singapore’s digital transformation,” said Mr Lim Kok Kiang, Principal & CEO of NP.

He added, “The RRIC will bring industry and academia together to create an ecosystem for applied research in robotics, and allow our students and staff to work on real-life problem statements to deepen skills in this in-demand field.”

MOU with SingHealth Polyclinics

In conjunction with the launch of the RRIC, NP signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SingHealth Polyclinics in October to develop a disinfection robot, HIRO (Healthcare Assistive Robot for Frontline Infection Control), that will soon be deployed at its polyclinics. Jointly developed by NP’s School of Engineering, School of Health Sciences, School of Life Sciences & Chemical Technology and SingHealth Polyclinics, HIRO uses UV-C light – which can eliminate more than 99.9 per cent of bacteria and viruses – to disinfect high-touch and hard-to-reach places remotely and independently.

In addition, the smart robot also doubles up as a safe management ambassador. It can detect visitors and patients who are not wearing masks or following safe distancing rules, record their temperature and display location information. It can even serve as a guide to show patients and visitors the way to the different service points in the polyclinic. These automated functions help the polyclinic to save manpower, and manage its facilities more efficiently and safely.

The robot is currently on trial at Tampines Polyclinic.

Clinical Associate Professor (Dr) Tan Ngiap Chuan, Director of Research at SingHealth Polyclinics and Vice-chair, Research, SingHealth-Duke NUS Family Medicine Academic Clinical Programme (FM ACP) said: “The HIRO robot is potentially a game-changer to mitigate infection risks in primary healthcare facilities, saving on manpower and enhancing safety to patients, visitors and staff. Due to the high patient load in the polyclinics, there is a need to disinfect the premises regularly without disrupting the clinical services, especially in this current COVID-19 pandemic. We are thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with NP and bring this innovation to our polyclinics.”

Co-develop New Specialist Diploma With SGInnovate

To meet the anticipated demand for robotics engineers in the era of automation, NP will be partnering SGInnovate to launch a new Specialist Diploma in Robotics Engineering. Aimed at equipping adult learners with essential skills and knowledge in machine learning, computer vision and coding, learners will have the unique opportunity to participate in Power X Robotics, a nine-month traineeship programme. This part-time full-qualification course will start in April 2022.

“As we lean more heavily on robotics to address some of our biggest challenges in areas such as healthcare and manufacturing, we need to ensure that Singapore’s innovative start-ups are equipped with the right talent to scale,” said Ms Juliana Lim, Executive Director, Talent Networking, SGInnovate. “Collaborations with partners like NP will be critical to lowering the barrier of entry into Deep Tech careers, and encourage learners of all ages to pick up in-demand skills and continue to remain relevant.”

Inaugural Robotics e-Symposium

To further seed interest in the growing field of robotics, the RRIC hosted a robotics e-symposium. Titled Robotics Solutions for the Pandemic Era, the conference brought together more than 12 partners and more than 300 participants, and explored how robotics applications can overcome challenges brought forth by the pandemic. It featured 10 robotics solutions that NP has developed over the years and how they have been deployed across various sectors. [APBN]

Source: Ngee Ann Polytechnic