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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Robot that parks hospital beds wins $250,000 grant

A first-if-its-kind robot that can help steer a hospital bed and manoeuvre it to park in tight spots has won a $250,000 proof-of-concept (POC) grant from the National Research Foundation (NRF)
The New Paper - July 9, 2014
By: JACQUELYN CHEOK
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Robot that parks hospital beds wins $250,000 grant IMPROVING PRODUCTIVITY: (From left) Lee Chuen Neng, Melvin Loh, Rachel Hong and Dr Yu, all from NUS, along with Ng Kiang Loong from Hope Technik, posing with the robot. PHOTO: NUS

A first-if-its-kind robot that can help steer a hospital bed and manoeuvre it to park in tight spots has won a $250,000 proof-of-concept (POC) grant from the National Research Foundation (NRF).

The robot - conceptualised and developed at the National University of Singapore (NUS) - was one of the 13 projects awarded the NRF POC grant on Monday, a testament to its technical viability and commercial readiness, said the NRF.

"It enables hospital beds to be effortlessly operated by just one person, potentially cutting manpower and the amount of physical strength needed by at least 50 per cent, and reducing work-related injuries," Yu Haoyong, the project research lead and an assistant professor at NUS, told The Business Times.

The labour intensiveness of moving patients around in hospitals (it usually takes at least two people to move a patient in a bed), labour shortage, and a need to improve health-care productivity here collectively inspired the development of the robot, said Dr Yu. He added that the funding would go towards refining the robot's design and conducting more hospital trials.

The product has since been licensed to Singapore-registered engineering firm Hope Technik.

On Monday, some $3.25 million was awarded by the NRF in what was its 11th POC grant call since the scheme was launched in 2008. The NRF POC scheme, which provides researchers with up to $250,000 in funding, allows them to further develop their inventions or ideas so as to create new products and start-up companies to commercialise their technology.

"While the NRF POC scheme is an important first step that can help translate technologies into commercial products, it needs to be complemented by incubators or people who can provide additional funding and the required talent and markets to grow the product," said Leslie Loh, founder of seed-stage start-up incubator Red Dot Ventures.

Other projects that were awarded the NRF POC grant on Monday included a security key that protects Internet of Things devices, as well as the world's first 4D microscope camera.

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