Robots, sensors and EVs: Singapore companies roll out new tech to spice up business

These robots can alert the hospitals' control centres if reinforcement is needed at certain sites with high human traffic. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

SINGAPORE, Aug 19, 2021, Business Times. SMRT, SPTel and SingPost SingPost: S08 -0.75% have been hard at work in August, rolling out initiatives involving new technologies that seek to set themselves apart from the competition, Business Times reported.

Stellar Lifestyle, formerly known as SMRT Commercial, announced on Wednesday that it would introduce robot baristas at its MRT stations in partnership with Crown Digital, a Singaporean startup with expertise in food and beverage technology.

By the end of next year, commuters taking the train will be able to order beverages ahead of time via an app during their commute and collect their drinks at some 30 MRT stations.

The robot barista making the coffee, ELLA, will occupy less than five square metres. It will also have a cashless and contactless interface that can serve up to 200 cups of coffee per hour to commuters.

Aside from making coffee, the robot barista will also have security features such as artificial intelligence (AI) powered vision system for round-the-clock “live” video analytics monitoring, as well as an advanced AI-powered computer vision system that can spot anomalies like spillage and foreign objects.

Stellar Lifestyle had earlier invested in Crown Digital’s pre-Series A fundraising round and ELLA’s deployment is part of this deal. In December 2020, Crown Digital also signed an agreement to deploy ELLA for test marketing at Japanese train stations operated by JR East.

Aside from automated baristas, urban farms are also seeking the help of local companies to improve their operations.

On Aug 10, SPTel, a joint venture between ST Engineering ST Engineering: S63 -2.53% and SP Group, announced that it would implement Internet of Things-as-a-service (IoT-a-a-S) with local agritech player AbyFarm to deploy IoT applications to enhance food production processes as well as improve productivity and crop yield.

Currently, urban farms face issues sourcing and identifying the right applications, sensors and technologies for such uses. This results in increased cost as farms end up investing heavily in the use of multiple IoT devices across different vendors.

SPTel said that it would help by providing an integrated platform that monitors and manages different sensors and applications regardless of their gateway deployment requirements.

Such sensors would be able to detect variables such as plant health and growth, as well as temperature, humidity and nutrient levels. Additional sensors can also be added easily, allowing farmers to retain centralised control of all their devices and applications.

“Through this deployment, we are able to become a sustainable self-regulating urban farm with IoT, automation and crop blockchain ledger that enables farm-to-table traceability for improved food safety and security,” said AbyFarm director and co-founder Phoebe Xie.

On Wednesday, ST Engineering shares closed at S$3.96, up one cent or 0.25 per cent.

Farms are not the only ones seeking to improve operating efficiency through technology either, as SingPost announced on Monday that it would commence pilots of fully electric three-wheeler scooters and vans to reduce the company’s fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

The IONA RAP three-wheeler, will emit roughly 75 per cent less greenhouse gases, while still having a slightly higher maximum cargo volume of 500 litres, up from the 462-litre cargo volume of current fuel-consuming three-wheelers and the 164-litre cargo volume of motorcycles.

Meanwhile, the BYD T3 van, distributed by ST Engineering Mobility Services, will also emit roughly 50 per cent less greenhouse gases compared to their petrol-fuelled equivalents. These electric vehicles (EVs) will help the company achieve its goal of having a 100 per cent electric delivery fleet by 2026.

Said SingPost chief executive officer of postal services and Singapore Vincent Phang: “By converting our delivery fleet to a fully electric one, we will be delivering a greener Singapore for everyone.”

SingPost said it is committed to a 35 per cent reduction in absolute greenhouse gas emissions from FY2019 levels by FY2030.

Shares in SingPost closed at 67 Singapore cents on Wednesday, up half a cent or 0.75 per cent.

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