Brief Introduction

Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science. Robots are machines that can ideally substitute humans and replicate human actions and are used to do jobs that are difficult, impossible, or just tedious for humans to do. Today, robots are designed and made to do jobs that are hazardous to human, such as defusing bombs, finding survivors in unstable ruins, and exploring mines and shipwrecks. [Read all you want at Wiki]


  1. Industrial robots
  2. Military robots (CBRE, by ST Engineering)
  3. Medical robots
  4. Autonomous drones (DroNet, by ST Engineering)

Robotics Components

  1. Power source
  2. Actuation
  3. Sensing
  4. Manipulation / interaction
  5. Locomotion
  6. Navigation

Autonomy Levels

  1. Teleoperation
    • A human controls each movement, each machine actuator change is specified by the operator.
  2. Supervisory
    • A human specifies general moves or position changes and the machine decides specific movements of its actuators.
  3. Task-level autonomy
    • The operator specifies only the task and the robot manages itself to complete it.
  4. Full autonomy
    • The machine will create and complete all its tasks without human interaction.
    • Example: Autonomous robots are robot that performs behaviors or tasks with a high degree of autonomy. It consists of artificial intelligence, robotics, and information engineering.

Notable Robotics Projects

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Curiosity on Mars

Fourth NASA robotic rover sent to Mars since 1996

Voyager 2

One of the twin space robotic probes from Voyager program

  • Cost: $865 million, cost of the Voyager 1 and 2 missions [link]
  • Launched date: Aug. 20, 1977
    • Flyby of Jupiter: Jul. 9, 1979
    • Flyby of Saturn: Aug. 26, 1981
    • Flyby of Uranus: Jan. 24, 1986
    • Flyby of Neptune: Aug. 25, 1989
  • Mission duration: 42 years, 2 months, 21 days (as of Nov. 12, 2019)
  • Power source: Nuclear battery via Radioisotope thermoelectric generator
  • Manufacturer: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Scientific instruments
    1. Triaxial Fluxgate Magnetometer
    2. Plasma Spectrometer
    3. Low Energy Charged Particle Instrument
    4. Cosmic Ray System
    5. Plasma Wave Subsystem (partially disabled)
    6. Imaging Science System (disabled)
    7. Radio Science System (disabled)
    8. Infrared Interferometer Spectrometer (disabled)
    9. Ultraviolet Spectrometer (disabled)
    10. Planetary Radio Astronomy Investigation (disabled)
    11. Photopolarimeter System (disabled)

Notable Robotics Research in Singapore

Military Robots

Commissioning of SAF's New Float Bridge and CBRE Defence Capabilities. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2019 from DSTA

  • Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives (CBRE) developed by ST Engineering (previously known as ST Kinetics)
  • Acoording to Wikipedia there are two notable exercises involving CBRE recently [link]

Fact Sheet: Trinity Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives (CBRE) Robotic Suite. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2019 from MINDEF Singapore

  • Trinity CBRE Robotic Suite is joint developed by Singapore Armed Forces CBRE Defence Group, DSO National Laboratories and Defence Science and Technology Agency
  • It can be fitted into three different modes (detection, sampling and mitigation)
  • Dimensions (with flipper extended): 879 mm x 406 mm x 181 mm
  • Weight: 33 kg
  • Max. Speed: 1.97 m/s
  • Max. Slope: 38°
  • Battery life: 2 to 2.5 hours

Autonomous Vehicle

(2019, Mar 5) Driverless electric bus launched by NTU and Volvo in 'world first'. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2019 from CNA

Single-deck Volvo 7900 Electric bus

  • Passengers: 80 (36 seats)
  • Zero-emissions vehicle and requires 80 per cent less energy than an equivalent-sized diesel bus
  • Length: 12 m
  • Location accuracy: up to 1cm
  • This is Volvo's first fully autonomous and electric bus in public transportation

The 27th Singapore Robotic Games 2020

There are 10 games in the annual SRG namely:

  1. RC Sumo Robot Competition
  2. Autonomous Sumo Robot Competition
  3. Legged Robot Marathon Race
  4. Picomouse Competition
  5. Underwater Robot Competition
  6. Open Category
  7. Wall Climbing Robot Race
  8. Humanoid Robot Competition
  9. Junior RC Sumo Robot Competition
  10. Junior Autonomous Sumo Robot Competition

Notable I2R Robotics Research

I2R Police Robots

S5 / M.A.T.A.R 2.0 / Furo-D

En, Siau Ming (2018, May 3) Police issue new smartphones, robots to aid officers in duties. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2019 from Today

  • Robotics section:
    1. S5 Pan-Tilt-Zoom Patrol Robot can patrol autonomously and provide a live video feed to the command post, for instance. It was tested at Chingay 2018.
    2. M.A.T.A.R 2.0 (Multi-purpose All Terrain Autonomous Robot), can detect any sound anomalies, such as from drones, and allows for human-robot interaction, such as when getting individuals to scan their thumbprint for identification purposes.
    3. Future Robot Display or Furo-D can interact with people and share crime prevention messages with the public.
The S5 Pan-Tilt-Zoom patrol robot, the Multi-purpose All Terrain Autonomous Robot 2.0 and the FURo-D Future Robot were on display during the Police Workplace Seminar. These are examples of the latest technologies used by the police to enhance its frontline operations.(Image courtesy of I2R/ Najeer Yusof/ TODAY)
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with ASTAR I2R Olivia the robot at the official opening of the $450 million Fusionopolis Two at one-north's R&D hub.(Image courtesy of I2R/ Najeer Yusof/ TODAY)

I2R Social Robot


Wong, Siew Ying (2015, Oct. 20) Investment in R&D has paid off: PM Lee. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2019 from The Straits Times

  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met the enhanced version of the Olivia robot he met 7 years ago when Fusionopolis One opened. Olivia can interact with people, understand commands and analyse the characteristics of the person it is dealing with.
  • PM Lee also took a ten minutes ride around one-north area in an autonomous vehicle (self-driving car). This could potential ease the manpower shortage for feeder buses in future.

Robotics Publications

Highly Cited Robotics Research

Sebastian Thrun, "Probabilistic robotics," Communications of the ACM, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 52-57, 2002. DOI: 10.1145/504729.504754 [link]

  • Abstract: Planning and navigation algorithms exploit statistics gleaned from uncertain, imperfect real world environments to guide robots towards their goals and around obstacles.
  • Citation: 9.7K+ [link]
  • Semantic Scholar: 396 Highly Influenced Papers

Murphy, R. Robin, " Introduction to AI Robotics," Industrial Robot, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 266-267, Jun. 2000. DOI: 10.1108/ir.2001.

  • Abstract: The paper covers all the material needed to understand the principles behind the AI approach to robotics and to program an artificially intelligent robot for applications involving sensing, navigation, planning, and uncertainty. Robin Murphy is extremely effective at combining theoretical and practical rigor with a light narrative touch. In the overview, for example, she touches upon anthropomorphic robots from classic films and science fiction stories before delving into the nuts and bolts of organizing intelligence in robots. Following the overview, Murphy contrasts AI and engineering approaches and discusses what she calls the three paradigms of AI robotics: hierarchical, reactive, and hybrid deliberative/reactive. Later chapters explore multiagent scenarios, navigation and path-planning for mobile robots, and the basics of computer vision and range sensing. Each chapter includes objectives, review questions, and exercises. Many chapters contain one or more case studies showing how the concepts were implemented on real robots. Murphy, who is well known for her classroom teaching, conveys the intellectual adventure of mastering complex theoretical and technical material.
  • Citation: 1.5K+ [link]
  • Semantic Scholar: 69 Highly Influenced Papers

Selected Robotics Research

  1. Social Robot
  2. Healthcare Robot
  3. Delivery Robot

Social Robot / Robotics

Bilge Mutlu, and Jodi Forlizzi, "Robots in organizations: the role of workflow, social, and environmental factors in human-robot interaction," In Proc. of 3rd ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human robot interaction, Amsterdam, pp. 287-294 , 2008. DOI: 10.1145/1349822.1349860

  • Abstract: Robots are becoming increasingly integrated into the workplace, impacting organizational structures and processes, and affecting products and services created by these organizations. While robots promise significant benefits to organizations, their introduction poses a variety of design challenges. In this paper, they use ethnographic data collected at a hospital using an autonomous delivery robot to examine how organizational factors affect the way its members respond to robots and the changes engendered by their use. Their analysis uncovered dramatic differences between the medical and post-partum units in how people integrated the robot into their workflow and their perceptions of and interactions with it. Different patient profiles in these units led to differences in workflow, goals, social dynamics, and the use of the physical environment. In medical units, low tolerance for interruptions, a discrepancy between the perceived cost and benefits of using the robot, and breakdowns due to high traffic and clutter in the robot's path caused the robot to have a negative impact on the workflow and staff resistance. On the contrary, post-partum units integrated the robot into their workflow and social context. Based on their findings, they provide design guidelines for the development of robots for organizations. .

Healthcare Robot / Robotics

Tao Yang, Jiang Liu, Weimin Huang, Yi Su, Liangjing Yang, Chee Kong Chui, Marcelo H. Ang Jr., and Stephen K. Y. Chang, "Mechanism of a Learning Robot Manipulator for Laparoscopic Surgical Training," Intelligent Autonomous Systems, vol. 12, pp. 17-26, 2002. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-642-33932-5_3 [link]

  • Abstract: This paper presents a robot manipulator for hand-over-hand guidance training of laparoscopic surgery. Details of the mechanical design, kinematic analysis and control mechanism of the robot are presented. The robot records motion of surgical tool manipulated by master surgeon, and provides physical guidance to the trainee based on the recorded motion. The robotic manipulator can accurately reproduce the five degree of freedom manipulation of laparoscopic instrument during surgery. A hybrid spherical mechanism is applied for decoupling and reproducing the motion of surgical tool to facilitate implementation of control mechanism. The manipulators for left and right hands are capable of precise execution of a recorded trajectory with observed maximum error of 2.12 mm and 2 mm respectively during an experiment on user interaction.

Delivery Robot / Robotics

J. M. Evans, "HelpMate: an autonomous mobile robot courier for hospitals," In Proc. of IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS'94), Munich, Germany, pp. 1695-1700, 1994. DOI: 10.1109/IROS.1994.407629

  • Abstract: Transitions Research Corporation has achieved commercial success with HelpMate, their autonomous mobile robot courier for hospitals. Over 50 units are operational working in uncontrolled hospital environments up to 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The navigation and system technologies embodied in HelpMate are described, emphasizing the impact of real world requirements on the engineering design.
  • Related article: J. Evans, et al, " HelpMate™: A robotic materials transport system," Robotics and Autonomous Systems, vol. 5, no. 3, pp. 251-256, Nov. 1989. DOI: 10.1016/0921-8890(89)90049-3

N. Mathew, S. L. Smith, and S. L. Waslander, "Planning Paths for Package Delivery in Heterogeneous Multirobot Teams," IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 1298-1308, Oct. 2015. DOI: 10.1109/TASE.2015.2461213

  • Abstract: The paper addresses the task scheduling and path planning problem for a team of cooperating vehicles performing autonomous deliveries in urban environments. The cooperating team comprises two vehicles with complementary capabilities, a truck restricted to travel along a street network, and a quadrotor micro-aerial vehicle of capacity one that can be deployed from the truck to perform deliveries. The problem is formulated as an optimal path planning problem on a graph and the goal is to find the shortest cooperative route enabling the quadrotor to deliver items at all requested locations. The problem is shown to be NP-hard. A solution is then proposed using a novel reduction to the Generalized Traveling Salesman Problem, for which well-established heuristic solvers exist. The heterogeneous delivery problem contains as a special case the problem of scheduling deliveries from multiple static warehouses. They propose two additional algorithms, based on enumeration and a reduction to the traveling salesman problem, for this special case. Simulation results compare the performance of the presented algorithms and demonstrate examples of delivery route computations over real urban street maps

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Jun Long Experience in Robotics

Jun Long researched in autonomous robot during his university and polytechnic studies. He led his teams in wining competitive awards for the semi-autonomous robots his team built from scratch.

During his national service in Singapore, he worked on the Searcher II UAV. He is still currently with the Singapore Air Force as an Air Force Engineer (NSmen) for the Heron UAV.