Video | AI-driven painting robot aims to address skills shortage

A new AI-driven painting and decorating robot could help address a shortage of skilled painters and decorators on larger-scale housing projects, its backers claim.

Chemical company Akzo-Nobel has teamed up with robotics start-up Les Companions to announce the preview of PACO, the painting robot.

The robot’s name comes from the abbreviation of “painter companion”. It has been designed to work in parallel with professional painters, relieving the pressure of strenuous and tedious jobs to help skilled workers to focus on the more complicated aspects of their jobs.

The PACO system makes a digital scan of a room to create a 3D image of the space. The AI component of the system recognises walls from other room elements and navigates around them, avoiding windows and doorposts.

AkzoNobel’s collaboration with Les Companions follows a competition three years ago. This invited designers and investors to consider “how to apply paint in a smarter way”.

Les Companions responded to that question with an early version of PACO.

Ted Szuman, senior incubator lead at AkzoNobel, said: “The skills shortage is having a huge impact; tradespeople and developers need additional support, and that’s where PACO can help. PACO is about empowering people and businesses to stick to their schedules and get the work that needs doing done.”

Antoine Rennuit, founder of Les Companions added: “Over the past three years, we’ve been on an amazing journey with AkzoNobel. Their early faith in our team and our vision for PACO was a true game-changer. It’s brilliant to showcase PACO in the UK and help this industry and its people as best as we can.”

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