Watch Out! Another Painting Robot
11 January, 2023
11 January, 2023
The French painting robot part is true; the shotgun trivia part, not so much.
As we’ve recently noted, the shortage of painters the world over has inspired the creation of painting robots, just last month we reported on MYRO, a Paint Robot from India. Now, as recently reported in The Sun, British company Dulux UK (owned by Akzo Nobel) has collaborated with a French tech company and spent millions creating a machine that can spray a whole wall by itself.
It’s not designed to replace painters, but rather to augment them — the human component must still take care of the more intricate details of the job while Paco does the stuff nobody wants.
Trying to solve the painter shortage
Called PACO, short for Painter Companion, this robot has a 3D scanner on board which it can use to create a digital model of the space that needs painting. It is equipped with an automated airless spraying system, explains the developer, Les Companions, based in Lille, France. It also reduces the need for masking, saving money on prep. “This is made possible by a roller integrated into the spraying gun, which allows it to perform in sensitive areas requiring high precision. It can also perform difficult and dangerous tasks,” Les Companions website states.
AkzoNobel UK has been investing in this technology as much out of necessity as intrigue; in recent years COVID has sent painters to other professions, and Brexit, the British exit from the European Union, has exacerbated the labor shortage as workers from EU countries are no longer seeking work in the UK.
The worker shortage in the UK is serious enough that AkzoNobel has tried to get the government involved. There’s a delay in the construction of new buildings, and according to an article in the Evening Standard, 61% of UK painters and decorators are having trouble finding workers with the necessary skills.
Almost ready for prime time
According to that same article, Les Companions believes it can launch this robot later this year. Once on the job, Paco will be able spray paint up to about 11 and a half feet, but it currently can only work on flat ground. For now, it is being marketed as an assistant for construction workers; it’s not quite ready for commercial application.
However, this is where your tech savvy crew members will come in to their own — someone needs to work with Paco and the 3D scanner to program it with the information it needs. Then Paco can work along with the more experienced painter, who will take care of the parts of the job needing a human hand, and perhaps make sure it doesn’t go all “Westworld” on the jobsite.
Once this technology gets off the ground in a commercial setting, the article surmises, it could spawn a series of consumer-oriented friends that can paint various spaces in the home.
Droning on and on
More robots and drones are on the way. AkzoNobel’s Paint the Future’s accelerator program has named three winners of a global startup challenge; these companies have made some major contributions to new painting tech in both application as well as in the coatings themselves.
Latvian company Aerones was on board due to its wind turbine maintenance robot. The multi-purpose robot is designed to not only remove an old layer of paint and clean a turbine blade, but also apply our full range of coatings, from filler to topcoat – making life safer for technicians, who no longer have to carry out hazardous work at dizzying heights.
The Czech startup, SprayVision s.r.o. is developing sophisticated technology that can reduce waste on a project by tailoring applications to the needs of an individual surface. It can further save time by assessing the quality of application before the paint has even dried.
Israeli company SolCold, while not working with application technology, has developed a sustainable, self-cooling film that can reduce surface temperatures by up to 60% using just the sun’s rays.
Safer and cheaper
Les Companions adds that Paco is not a replacement, but a companion, but one that can make painting safer and easier, and it can keep your workers out of dangerous areas and reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals, and again, the developer assures us that its robot will allow your crew to focus on more and better, rather than the dull and dreary.
“PACO is a collaborative robot, an assistant for painters. Humans carry out noble tasks with strong added value,” says the company. “PACO assists your painters in their daily operations. Our innovative solution aims at optimizing your margins and enforcing quality.”
It may be worth noting that just like most new technology, what may seem slow and cumbersome now will give way to a much-improved model in the future.