Meet kAI: the four-legged AI employee at Singapore’s rail operator

Its job is to assist technicians with maintenance activities.
Sejal Sharma
kAI at North East Line Depot
kAI at North East Line Depot


SBS Transit, a rail and bus operator in Singapore, will soon have an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered robotic dog running around fixing things at the operator’s train workshop. The robotic dog, called kAI, was developed by a Singapore-based firm Weston Robot.

kAI will be installed at the North East Line Depot and will be responsible for dedicated tasks like MASS rapid transit (MRT) train inspections and detecting missing screws and panels underneath the trains. kAI will help bring down the time spent on train inspections by half.

Eventually, kAI will be equipped with non-visual capabilities like thermal imaging and sound sensors, allowing for early targeted repairs of certain components, reported The Straits Times.

A stream of AI-powered projects

SBS Transit will also use 3D printing technology for the train parts that aren’t readily available and have low demand. Instead of having to ship technical train parts from overseas, the company will start to print on demand, as this would save time and costs. This also means a reduction of SBS’ carbon footprint and building a resilient supply chain, explained SBS in a Facebook post.

They have been using 3D printed coil nucleus, which has undergone over 16,000 cycles of stress tests, lasting longer than the original coil nucleus.

Meet kAI: the four-legged AI employee at Singapore’s rail operator
Locally 3D printed coil nucleus

The public transport company is also looking to reduce its dependence on non-renewable resources to power its trains. They will soon bring in AI software to save energy which will synchronize the timetables of the trains arriving and departing from a station. The energy generated from the brakes of a train, when it arrives at a station, will be used to power the acceleration of a train that is departing at the same time from the same station.

SBS Transit stands to save $1 million in energy bills annually, which would have been enough to power 750 four-bedroom HDB flats, said the Facebook post.

SBS Transit group chief executive Jeffrey Sim told The Straits Times, “Besides reducing operating costs, these technologies also improve the reliability and productivity of MRT trains.”

These AI projects are the first for Singapore’s MRT networks, and they are working with France's ALSTOM, which is a transport company involved in the manufacturing of high-speed trains, metros, monorails, trams, turnkey systems, services, infrastructure, signaling, and digital mobility.

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