Robot Paints High-Rise Buildings to Improve Efficiency, Safety

Photo caption: The Outobot spray paints a wall. Photo courtesy of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

An innovative robotic system, co-developed by ELID Technology International (Manila, Philippines) and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, can apply new coats of paint and clean building exteriors using water jets.

OutoBot, a patent-pending automated unit built in Singapore, is expected to improve productivity while enhancing workplace safety. It requires only half the manpower to complete a project and can work for longer hours as compared to manual methods.

OutoBot comprises a robotic arm, with six degrees of movement, mounted on a specially designed automated gondola. The system weighs <500 kg (1,102 lb). Powered by a conventional power outlet, the robot can scan the exterior surface of a building using a camera and automatically plot the areas to spray paint or clean while avoiding the windows. It also gives a more consistent coat of paint as compared to manual methods.

Typically a team of five is usually required—two on the ground and roof top, with three painters or cleaners on the gondola— to paint or wash a building façade. The robotic system requires only two workers: one operator on the ground and one as a safety officer. Apart from saving up to 50% on manpower requirements, the robotic system can speed up both the cleaning and painting process by ~30% since it does not need a break. The automated system also minimizes wastage, with paint savings of up to 20%.

To speed up the painting or cleaning process on the same building, multiple systems can be deployed.

Dennis Lim, managing director of ELID Technology International, says the robotic system will tackle productivity issues for painting buildings in line with Singapore’s Smart Nation vision. “With Singapore’s rapidly aging workforce, we need to find ways to enable our employees to continue contributing despite their advanced years,” he explains. “Using our new robot, we have shown that a labor-intensive job can transformed into one that can be easily done by an older worker, and at the same time eliminating the risk of employees having to work at heights,” he adds.

Source: Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, web site: