Singapore will trial a robot to look for defects in building constructions early next year, the government has announced.

The trial is being led by JTC, the agency for industrial infrastructure development. The robot will be trialled at an upcoming industrial area to pick up cracks and uneven surfaces in the building, using cameras and laser scanners

If successful, the agency could work with the Building and Construction Authority to see if the robot can help meet regulatory requirements. This could replace human building inspectors in the future.

“Once we find out that everything [at the trial] turns out to be as planned, then the next step would be we’ll try to cover more uses, and see if we can totally replace this aspect of the inspection of spaces with robots,” said Koh Chwee, director of the technical services division at JTC, at a press briefing – according to the Business Times.

The autonomous robot takes 3D scans of the building in about half the time taken for manual inspections, and measures this against regulatory standards to see if they match up.

It was invented by scientists at Nanyang Technological University. It was co-developed by JTC and a local startup, CtrlWorks. The National Research Foundation has also funded the project.

The robot currently costs around a year’s salary for a human building inspector, added Chen I-Ming, director of NTU Robotic Research Centre.