SINGAPORE - Apartment floors may soon be tiled not by humans, but by intelligent robots - fast, precise and in no danger of straining their backs.
A prototype has been developed by the Future Cities Laboratory here in collaboration with Swiss firm ROB Technologies AG.
If the project is successful, Singapore could become the first country in the world to use them.
With more than 40 million tiles laid in new construction projects here each year, there is "great potential" to automate tiling to make it more labour-efficient, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in a blog post yesterday.
The robot uses sensors that show it where to lay the next tile. Using suction pads at the end of a mechanical arm, it lifts a tile from the holder on its back and lowers it into place.
It does this twice as fast as a human - and because one worker can supervise two robots, firms can be four times as productive.
Two workers usually take two days to tile a three-room Housing Board flat. It is hoped that with four robots, two workers could tile four flats in that time.
Human-robot teamwork is the idea, said the project's team leader, Professor Fabio Gramazio: "We do not believe in a simple substitution of humans."