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Autonomous Industrial Robot Paints With Precision

Industrial Photonics
Jan 2017
Some of the building interiors in Singapore will soon be getting a fresh coat of paint, meticulously applied by the PictoBot, an autonomous robot that makes painting large areas a fast and easy process. PictoBot can paint a high interior wall 25 percent faster than a crew of two painters using a scissor lift, improving both productivity and safety.

 NTU's new autonomous robot, PictoBot, will be able to paint high interior walls 25 percent faster than two painters combined, improving both productivity and safety.
NTU's new autonomous robot, PictoBot, will be able to paint high interior walls 25 percent faster than two painters combined, improving both productivity and safety. Courtesy of NTU Singapore.

Co-developed by researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) and JTC Corporation, the robot integrates several components to automate the spray painting of interior walls that may have different specifications. These include: A six-axis robotic arm; a precise spray nozzle and high pressure paint pump that is four times faster than brushing or rolling; and an automated jack-up platform that enables the PictoBot to reach up to ten meters high. The robot is also equipped with an optical camera for scanning the work space to calculate the trajectory of nozzle and paint, and a laser scanner to measure the range and distance. Advanced sensors enable the PictoBot to operate in the dark, and it can work for four hours on a single battery charge.

The next step for the research team will be to testbed the robot at industrial developments such as JTC Space @ Gul to ensure that the quality of the PictoBot's spray painting is comparable to or better than industry standards.

"Painting large industrial spaces is repetitive, labor intensive and time-consuming. PictoBot can paint while a supervisor focuses on operating it," said Prof Chen I-Ming, director of NTU Robotic Research Centre. "The autonomous behavior also means that a single operator can handle multiple robots and refill their paint reservoirs."

"Using PictoBot to automate spray painting helps us mitigate the risks of working at heights when painting high walls typically found in industrial buildings,” said Anil Das, director, Innovation Programme Office and Corporate Planning at JTC. “In addition, it helps to reduce labor-intensive work, thus improving productivity and ensuring the quality of interior finishes. We look forward to seeing the results from the pilot deployment of PictoBot at JTC Space @ Gul."

George Loh, director (Programmes), National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore said, "In Singapore, the demand for construction projects is expected to increase as we continue to develop. PictoBot is an example of how autonomous robots can be deployed to boost productivity and overcome the manpower constraints that Singapore faces in the construction industry. NRF will continue to encourage the public sector to identify and adopt technologies that can address our national needs."

But does he do windows?

The story originally appeared on the Nanyang Technological University website.

Video of NTU Singapore's autonomous painting robot in action, with its six-axis robotic arm that not only paints with precision but is four times faster than brushing or rolling. Courtesy of NTU Singapore.

machine vision
Interpretation of an image of an object or scene through the use of optical noncontact sensing mechanisms for the purpose of obtaining information and/or controlling machines or processes.
Research & TechnologyAsia-Pacificindustrialroboticsmachine visionSensors & Detectorsindustrial automationvision guided roboticsVGRpictobotTechnology News

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