Building Inspection, Maintenance and Facility Management
Routine Inspection of Corridors of HDB Blocks
Background and Current Practice
There are over 10,000 HDB blocks in Singapore. Each town council covers about 600 blocks.
One responsibility of the Managing Agents (MA) of town councils is to perform routine inspections of common areas, such as corridors and stairways, for each block in the Housing and Development Board (HDB) housing estate. This visual inspection is currently conducted by Property Officers (PO) and aims to identify any hazards, defects and obstructions (collectively known as “faults”) that need to be rectified. During the inspection, the PO will survey every floor of the block. Each block has two to 50 floors.
The routine inspection is done once a month for each block, but the frequency can increase based on an as-needed basis.
Opportunity Areas and Key Challenges
We are interested in robotic solutions that can perform the routine inspection of the HDB corridors and utilise video analytics to identify faults. After the identification of faults, the solution would assist with the investigation by capturing useful information and photographic or videographic evidence, and alert the relevant stakeholders. The list of faults that are of priority to identify can be found under Resources (below).
Here are some of the challenges that need to be addressed before the solution can be deployed successfully:
1) The robot must be able to autonomously navigate the corridors, and not cause damage to private property or not cause harm or disturbance to residents.
- The standard common corridor space has a width of at least 1.2m. However, due to objects placed in the corridors, for example, flower pots and shoe racks, the manoeuvrable space is effectively less than 1.2m.
- The intended deployment time for the robot is 11pm to 5am, when there is little or no human traffic. When it encounters a human, the robot must give the right of way to the human.
2) The robot must be able to call and board the lift to travel between the different floors without human intervention.
- As housing estates have a diversity of lift brands and makes, the robot should ideally be able interface with any lift brand.
- The lift interfacing system should follow TR 93: 2021. It could also refer to the following guidelines : IMDA Guidelines for the Use of Autonomous Mobile Robots for Delivery within Commercial Building
- The lift interfacing system should not involve any modifications to the lift software but could involve attachments to the lift control panels.
3) The robot must be able to navigate between the base station and the destination blocks. It must also be able to travel from block to block to perform routine inspection for up to 4 blocks within one charge cycle.
4) The robot may be required to travel outdoors and be exposed to the elements. The electric and electronics system on the robotics must have protection against rain and water.
5) The robot must be able to be remotely-controlled by a human pilot in the situation that there are errors or challenges faced by the robot during the autonomous operation. It must be able to recognise the errors or challenges, and alert a human staff based at the Command Centre.
- Examples of challenging situations are inability to resolve any “right of way” conflicts, obstructions in inspection pathways, and abusive actions against the robot.
6) It must have real-time connectivity via cellular and channel its video stream to a centralised Command Centre. The video being streamed back from the robot to the Command Centre must be of sufficient quality to allow the video analytics to identify and classify the faults
7) It must not generate noise that can potentially disturb residents.
8) It should have a battery lifespan of at least six hours.
The solution should include a digital interface that supports the programming of the robot’s inspection pathway and monitors the inspection process.
We are interested in the 3D visualisation of identified faults based on their location in the housing estates to further support the operations to manage and rectify the faults. EM Services will work closely with the innovator to generate the 3D map* and inspection pathways of the housing estates required for the autonomous robotic operations.
*BIM data is only available for limited estates.
The robotic solution can autonomously navigate all floors of a HDB block and intelligently identify the faults found in corridors. The solution eliminates the need for Property Officers to perform routine inspections.