Rise of the machines at Changi Airport

Sep 2, 2020

At 40m, Jewel Changi Airport's waterfall, the world's tallest indoor one, makes such a splash that people standing nearby often get a little wet.

The water never stops, so there are always puddles on the floor to mop up, for the safety of visitors.

Cleaners previously had to spend 10 minutes each time doing this manually at one-to two-hour intervals. But since January, the onerous task has been taken over by two tireless workers.

They are Jewel's LeoScrub robots, built by local company LionsBot International and part of a growing fleet of automatons helping to keep Changi Airport humming along daily.

Cleaning robots like the LeoScrubs make up the bulk of the 47 robots in Jewel and the airport's terminals. But these robots are also increasingly being called upon to interact with visitors in a variety of ways.

The LeoScrubs, for example, sport a QR code on their frames that visitors can scan with their phones to open a menu with questions they can ask the robots.

These include, if visitors are so inclined, asking the robots to sing.

Jewel is also trialling a concierge robot that provides directions to shops within the mall and doubles as a ticketing kiosk for tourist attractions, among other services.

The concierge robots will be deployed later this year.

"The use of robots has helped to ease the more laborious tasks of our staff, as well as those of our partners, at Jewel," said Jewel Changi Airport head of user experience Kelvin Tan. He added that staff have, as a result, been able to work smarter and be more productive.

For example, cleaners typically make the rounds once a day to collect trash from each of Jewel's shops. This could take about 1½ hours for just one level of the mall.

Four LeoPull robots, lookalike "sisters" of the LeoScrubs, now handle trash collection on Jewel's third level, with more to be deployed on other levels by the end of the year.