Autonomous painter robot ‘PictoBot’ developed in Singapore

PictoBot, a new robot which could revolutionize the way large surfaces are painted was unveiled this week in Singapore.

The robot itself is an autonomous system which can paint large wall sections without significant human input.

PictoBot was developed by researchers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in cooperation with JTC Corporation and local start-up Aitech Robotics and Automation.

Developed for industrial applications, the robot uses a spray nozzle to quickly apply paint to building interiors.

The team behind PictoBot say that using its robotic technology, time savings of up to 25% can be achieved over a team of two human painters.

Such time savings are derived from the fact that PictoBot, making use of its extendable and retractable spray nozzle arm, can reach high walls and ceilings without the use of a scissor lift.

In total, PictoBot can reach surfaces has high as 10m above the ground – common features of many industrial buildings.

Beyond this, PictoBot is also said to be superior to human painters as it can both work in the dark, as well as around the clock, requiring only a single human operator to refill the robot’s paint supplies periodically.

“Painting large industrial spaces is repetitive, labour intensive and time-consuming. PictoBot can paint while a supervisor focuses on operating it,” said Prof Chen I-Ming, the director of NTU’s Robotic Research Centre.

“The autonomous behaviour also means that a single operator can handle multiple robots and refill their paint reservoirs.”

In order to allow PictoBot to paint surfaces evenly and precisely, it is paired with a machine vision system which makes use of an optical camera and a laser scanner.

As well, the robot is powered by electric batteries and can operate for up to 4 hours before requiring a recharge.

Following the reveal of PictoBot, the research team behind it will begin testing it in real world industrial developments, in order to ensure it complies with industry standards.

There is currently no word on when, or if, PictoBot will be commercially available to interested buyers.