A delegation led by Prof Guang-Zhong Yang from UK-RAS Network is currently on a mission to Singapore, organised and funded by the UK Science and Innovation Network (SIN). The delegation are meeting with staff at the National Robotics Programme (NRP) to identify and explore opportunities for collaboration, both within academia and industry. The team will also learn more about Singapore's R&D landscape in Robotics and Autonomous Systems and identify complementary areas between the two countries.
The National Robotics Programme (NRP), a 3-year, S$450 million (approx. £250 million) programme, was established in 2014 to support robotics R&D and industry development. It is led by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and the Economic Development Board (EDB), and the Chief Executive is Professor Quek Tong Boon, formerly Chief Scientist at Singapore’s Ministry of Defense. The programme will be coordinated by the National Robotics Programme Office at A*STAR. Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF) is contributing S$110 million towards the total budget, and this will be used to support research and development activities which address local priorities. Funding modes will includes calls for solutions, and A*STAR and partner agencies expect to launch these by the end of the year. The rest of the funding will be overseen by EDB and channelled mainly towards Singapore-based SMEs, to support them to adopt closer-to-market and available solutions to increase productivity.
The delegation begun the visit with a briefing with the Science and Innovation Team at the British High Commission and begun a series of discussions with a number of research groups such as the Advanced Robotics Centre (ARC) at the National University of Singapore; the NUS BioRobotics (NUS); the NUS Control Intelligent Systems & Robotics Group (CISR) at the Department of Biomedical Engineering: and the A*STAR Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R).
The ARC was established in 2013 with support from both the Faculty of Engineering and the School of Computing. The goal of ARC is to lead and support robotics research in NUS and in Singapore, and over time, gain international recognition as a peak of excellence in robotics research. One core research theme of ARC is human-centered collaborative robotics, with the goal of developing the scientific foundations, technologies, and integrated platforms that enable symbiotic human-robot interaction and collaboration. The Director, Professor Marcelo H. Ang, Jr, provided an overview of ARC's activities, thematic interests and opportunities for collaboration. This was followed by a presentation by Prof Guang-Zhong Yang, on the UK RAS Network and the UK Robotics Week 2017.
The NUS BioRobotics (NUS)is made up of three research groups that focus on biomedical robotics / devices:
- The Biorobotics Lab develops novel robotic systems, devices, and enabling technologies to address the healthcare and manpower challenges in societies with an increasing aging population.
- The research group of Medical Mechatronics at the Department of Biomedical Engineering of NUS aims to facilitate surgical and interventional systems by engineering approaches, which are also known as Computer-Integrated Surgical (CIS) and Computer-Integrated Interventional Systems (CIIS).
- The Evolution Innovation (EI) Lab, headed by Dr Raye Yeow, focuses on bio-inspired engineering research. Together with his team of engineers and students, their vision is to study the mechanisms of nature, and to develop biomimetic technologies that will benefit healthcare.
- The research of the Control subgroup is centered on systems and control. The core strengths are on system control methodology, and industrial applications.
- The research of the Intelligent Systems subgroup focuses on computational and machine intelligence. The core strengths are on computational intelligence based optimization, and machine learning based applications.
- The research of the Robotics subgroup is centered on autonomous robotic technology. The core strengths are on robot design and control.
The delegation’s mission continues, with further meetings planned for today, at the A*STAR SIMTech; the NTU Robotics Research Centre at Nanyang Technological University; ST Engineering-NTU Corporate Laboratory; A*Star Advanced Remanufacturing Technology Centre (ARTC) and with the Centre for Healthcare Assistive & Robotics Technology (CHART).
SIMTech is a research institute of A*STAR that develops high value manufacturing technology and human capital to enhance the competitiveness of Singapore’s manufacturing industry. SIMTech has completed projects for companies in the electronics, semiconductor, precision engineering, medical technology, aerospace, automotive, marine, logistics and other sectors.
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has an extensive research programme, and ranks first globally for research income from industry. Key institutes include energy research, media innovation, environment and water research, structural biology, rehabilitation, complexity, and air traffic management.
The NTU Robotics Research Centre was established in 1994 and is the first interdisciplinary research centre on robotics in Singapore. The Centre also actively promotes links with industry. Over the years, the Centre has provided consultancy services to industry as well as undertaken contract research. There are also two companies associated with the Centre faculty members:
- Endomaster Pte Ltd (http://www.endomastermedical.com/) provides robotic-assisted endoscopic surgery technology
- SynPhNe Ltd (http://www.synphne.org/) provides robotic rehabilitation solutions for stroke patient recovery
ST Engineering is a Singapore-grown engineering group specialising in innovative solutions and services in the Aerospace, Electronics, Land Systems and Marine sectors. ST Engineering was formed in 1997 and is today one of Asia's largest defence and engineering groups. ST Engineering and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have set up a joint research lab to develop advanced robotics and autonomous systems that will improve airport operations and disaster rescue efforts.
The two main research areas of the ST Engineering-NTU Corporate Lab are in airport precision and airside technology (such as baggage transfer systems, aerobridges and aircraft tow trucks) and in enhancing intelligence support for crisis management.
The A*STAR Advanced Remanufacturing Technology Centre (ARTC), launched in 2015, is Asia’s first centre within the network fo Advanced Research Centres (known as AxRCs) for test bedding and developing remanufacturing technologies through a public-private partnership approach – together with strategic partners NTU and A*STAR. ARTC’s technology themes include Repair and Restoration, Surface Enhancement, Robotics, Product Verification, and Additive Manufacturing. For the robotics theme, the focus industry sectors include Medical (e.g. improving the quality and efficiency of knee cap polishing), Aerospace, Automotive and Marine (e.g. deburring and polishing of critical components), and Energy & Repair (e.g. improving component life and surface quality after repair). Rolls-Royce is one of ARTC’s industrial members.
The Centre for Healthcare Assistive & Robotics Technology (CHART) established in 2015 with the support of the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), offers a platform for healthcare professionals to work closely with industry, academia and research institutions to co-develop and testbed impactful healthcare solutions in assistive technologies and robotics. CHART also works with the National Robotics Programme, a multi-agency initiative to coordinate and support the end-to-end development of robotics technologies.
The Science and Innovation Network (SIN) promotes and facilitates international collaboration in research and innovation. Science and innovation are at the heart of government strategy for promoting prosperity and growth. Research and knowledge is increasingly developed and transferred through international collaboration which provides opportunities to work with the best in the world, exchange students and researchers, and gain access to large scale international facilities, leading to mutual benefits for UK and Singapore.
SIN Singapore works to:
- influence science and innovation policies of governments, industry and academia to benefit the UK
- improve UK policy based on international experience and emerging opportunities and issues with Singapore
- encourage high level science co-operation to benefit the UK and achieve wider policy objectives
- stimulate strategic science collaborations with Singapore to benefit the UK and deliver wider policy goals
- make best use of international technology co-operation and investment to grow UK innovation potential
UK-Singapore Innovation and Research Partnership
Singapore is a world-leading R&D centre, and is the top Asian country in the INSEAD Global Innovation Index. As such, Singapore is an important partner for the UK in science and innovation. The UK-Singapore Partners in Science programme was initiated in 2004 and has formed the basis of our strong cooperation on research. Much of our collaboration now takes place under the UK-Singapore Innovation and Research Partnership, which was signed by both Prime Ministers around the State Visit in 2014 and takes our cooperation to a new level. The Partnership sees research activities continuing, but with an enhanced focus on applying the results to develop new ideas that will enable us to respond to global challenges, increase competitiveness and improve standards of living.
Our priority sectors are:
- Cyber and Information Communications Technology (ICT)
- Future Cities
- Future Manufacturing
- Health and Life Sciences
- Quantum Technology
SIN Southeast Asia
The Southeast Asia regional SIN team, based in Singapore, working with Embassies and High Commissions throughout the region, develops and supports cooperation on research and innovation with local partners in Southeast Asia and with partners across the UK. We work through programmes including the Newton Fund, Prosperity Fund, the EU-funded international cooperation project ‘SEA-EU-NET II’, and the UK-Southeast Asia Knowledge Partnership.