(Hong Kong, 31 May 2023) Developed by the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) with funding support from the Innovation and Technology Fund (ITF) of the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC), the autonomous delivery robot "PHABtastic" has been put into practical use. Since March this year, it has been undergoing a six-month trial at the Hong Kong PHAB Association Jockey Club PHAB Camp to use technology to promote a culture of PHAB (Physically handicapped and abled-bodied) integration in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is facing manpower shortages across various industries. To reduce the impact on daily operations, the Hong Kong PHAB Association Jockey Club PHAB Camp has introduced the HKPC-developed autonomous delivery robot "PHABtastic" through the "Public Sector Trial Scheme – ITF Projects". "PHABtastic" assists staff in handling simple delivery tasks, reducing the burden on frontline workers while enhancing the camping experience of guests. To ensure that "PHABtastic" can better integrate into a barrier-free environment, HKPC team has incorporated barrier-free design elements, including visual and audible cues, height adjustment of the robot, and a simplified design of user interface, making it more accessible for disabled people, amid realising PHAB integration.
Ir Samson SUEN, General Manager, Smart City Division of HKPC, said, "To align with the Government's policy in promoting an innovative and smart city, HKPC received funding from the ITF of the ITC in 2018 to develop the Autonomous Delivery Mover (MiniMover). The research focused on deep learning and sensor fusion technologies which enable robots to plan appropriate walking paths automatically. This technology was made available to the industry to develop further and apply to various testing solutions, including an indoor patrol robot. Collaborating with Hong Kong PHAB Association this time, we leveraged the core technology of MiniMover to create an autonomous delivery robot, 'PHABtastic', which is adaptable to barrier-free environments. This project exemplifies HKPC's careful deliberation during the research and development (R&D) phase, considering the flexibility and scalability of the system architecture to cater to diversified application scenarios, including those for disabled people. In the future, we will continue to work with Hong Kong PHAB Association to explore ways to optimise 'PHABtastic' and benefit more disabled people, building a community with PHAB integration and rich human touch."
Ms Alvina CHAU, Service Director of Hong Kong PHAB Association, said, "Hong Kong PHAB Association Jockey Club PHAB Camp is architecturally divided into the main building and the dormitory. When campers request additional supplies in the dormitory, they have to go back and forth between the camp office in the main building and the dormitory. This causes inconvenience to both campers and staff, especially those with mobility difficulties. With 'PHABtastic', upon receiving requests from campers, the staff can place small-size supplies into respective storage boxes, input some basic information/instruction, then 'PHABtastic' would deliver the supplies to campers accordingly. During the design process, HKPC R&D team also listened to and addressed staff's requests and feedback, while making continuous adjustments and improvements to fit our daily operations, such as strengthening the anti-collision and anti-vibration functions so that 'PHABtastic' can deliver the supplies to a specific camper or to a designated area efficiently and precisely without affecting other service users. We believe that technology enhancement with tailor-made and personalised design can improve the quality of life for people with disability or people with special needs. It not only allows them to be part of the community enjoying the community resources, but it can also help them build their confidence by allowing them to show their ability and contribute to the community. Helping to build a 'Friendly community' for everyone who can enjoy all resources in society equally regardless of their abilities is one of the objectives of Hong Kong PHAB Association."
HKPC hopes that "PHABtastic" can be widely applied in more barrier-free environments in the future, helping promote the innovation and technology development in Hong Kong, and contributing to building a smarter and more sustainable city.
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