As The Simpsons so eloquently put it, when it comes to cleaning up rubbish and collecting waste; “can’t someone else do it?”
Although maybe that should now be “Can’t something else do it?”
The Singapore Government wants to take the less-than-pleasant job of cleaning their streets and get a robot to do it, and they are calling out to their citizens to help them come up with the best possible way to make it happen.
In a recent Request for Information put out by Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) and Ministry of Transport (MOT), the pair of departments are asking the public for input to make the self-driving cleaning vehicles a reality.
In the request, which was found by The Straits Times, they outline that they are looking to make a fleet of autonomous cleaners, able to handle waste collection and street cleaning — think something like those little vacuum cleaner robots, but on a much bigger scale.
The request is part of the Ministry of Transport’s push to convert as much of the city’s ground traffic as possible into completely autonomous vehicles, such as their mass rapid transit and light rail transit lines are already.
The request was posted on GeBiz, the Singapore Government’s online portal, used to source quotes and tenders from suppliers and industry professionals.
In this case, the NEA and MOT have stated that they are looking for ideas and proofs of concept from firms in the robotics industry, institutes of higher learning and research institutes — though the beauty of GeBiz and the internet means that anyone who has the right ideas can have a go at putting them forward.
At this stage, the request is simply a call for information, so it could still be a while off before the oversized vacuum robots see the light of day.
These utility vehicles would be perfect for somewhere as heavily populated as Singapore, and though luckily in Australia we aren’t quite so congested, cities like Sydney and Melbourne could definitely still benefit from an army of cleaner robots.
Because sometimes, the garbage man can’t.