Trending March 2017

In this issue: the potential uses of drones, what different countries are doing with robots, and the differences between two authorities you will often find working together to keep our roads safe.


The Sky is No Longer the Limit

Drones, or unmanned aerial systems (UAS), have taken Singapore by storm. While drone photographers like Joel Chia (@idroneman on Instagram) show off Singapore’s landmarks from a bird’s eye view, the Urban Redevelopment Authority is using drones to enhance conservation efforts and document areas. Drones are also changing delivery services. Singapore Post did their first test for dronedelivered mail in October 2015, with a five-minute flight from Lorong Halus to Pulau Ubin. Another opportunity for drones is indoors: Local start-up Infinium Robotics is leading the use of drones to serve food in restaurants. It is also partnering Foodpanda to do meal deliveries. In the public sector, the National Environment Agency might use drones to monitor high, hard-to-reach places in its fight against mosquito breeding. Maritime and Port Authority drones could support marine incident recovery, say, in oil spills. Facilitating the use of drones across agencies is a UAS committee led by the Ministry of Transport. So watch out for more buzz in the sky.
This aerial photograph of the new stepped plaza at Queen Elizabeth Walk was taken with a drone.


The Robotic World of the Future

Across the globe, countries are upgrading their systems with robots, improving our way of life one step at a time. 

China is set to overtake Japan as the world’s largest operator of industrial robots by 2017, according to the Financial Times (FT), citing the International Federation of Robotics. This increasing use of robots is being bolstered by the Chinese central government, which is promoting automation by offering generous subsidies. China is also producing its own robots, which the FT says will be 20% to 30% cheaper than those by international companies based in Japan and Germany.
South Korea
The world’s largest manned bipedal robot, Method-2, brings to mind the giant machine robots in movies like Pacific Rim and Avatar. The fourmetre-tall Method-2 can mimic the movements of the person controlling it, and is meant to help workers in hazardous areas. The aim is that by 2018, the Method-2 will be used in manufacturing and construction, or even for entertainment purposes. 
Singapore’s first robotic parking will start in 2018. Robinson Tower will be the first to enjoy a completely handsfree parking scheme, developed by MHE-Demag. Like a robot valet, an automated guided vehicle (AGV) will manoeuvre your car to a parking spot, using lasers, cameras and markings on the ground. Better yet, the AGV will take only two minutes to retrieve your 
In 2016, Adidas Germany produced its first shoe made in a factory staffed almost entirely by robots. The FutureCraft MFG (Made for Germany) was made in a Speedfactory, where technology and automation have reduced manufacturing time from weeks to just five hours. Besides cutting production and labour costs, this means Adidas shoes can potentially be made on demand, shifting the company’s production and business models away from stocked inventory.
The EU
The European Parliament is considering rights for robots, and classifying them as “electronic persons”. They argue that robots should have established rights, so that liability can be determined in the event of damage. This aims to answer the question of blame in the case that an autonomous system crashes and injures another person or system.


Get the C correct

Officers on the Road – LTA or TP? 

How to tell Land Transport Authority enforcement officers from the Traffic Police.


The Land Transport Authority (LTA) enforcement officers with the Traffic Police? The two regularly work together on road management, but are part of different parent agencies. 

The LTA, under the Ministry of Transport, oversees Singapore’s road regulations for speed limits and bus lane hours. It provides facilities to road users and ensures safety on roads and pathways, together with partner agencies. The Traffic Police is part of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and responsible  for traffic regulations and educating drivers on road safety. In a nutshell, the LTA sets the rules while the Traffic Police enforces action against traffic violations and unsafe driving behaviour, such as speeding. So both agencies have complementary roles, with some overlaps. 

The easiest way to tell them apart? LTA officers wear a white shirt and a blue vest with “LTA Enforcement” across the back. The Traffic Police can be found in white, with a stark SPF crest on the front left side, or in a white and grey riding jacket with “Police” on the back.



Low key: Unlike its conventional meaning of “modest and subtle” (as an adjective to describe, say, an event), the term is now commonly used as an adverb to mean “secretly, slightly or kind of”. E.g., “I am low-key sad that my roommate moved out.”

Tombola: In the 1970s, tombola was a form of gambling, where a drum spins and drops tickets (numbers printed on balls) – think bingo and lottery mixed into one. Today, tombola means to leave something entirely to fate or luck. E.g., “I think I’ll tombola for my MCQ exam later.”




Bon Iver: This is my favourite indie folk band. Their music is soothing and nostalgic, evoking feelings of being in a quiet cottage in the woods.

Gillman Barracks’ website: I visit this site to find out about the latest gallery openings, and visual and literary arts events such as Art After Dark and Singapore Art Book Fair.


Manager, MOM

The Best I Could: Subhas Anandan’s autobiography intersects with Singapore’s criminal history and gives an almost conversational primer on criminal law. His youthful exploits in the ’60s and ’70s make this an intriguing read.

Bang My Car: Ann Ang’s debut short story collection puts the focus on a familiar character often taken for granted: the Singaporean uncle. Her stories are alternately whimsical and hard-hitting.

    Apr 4, 2017
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