Chinese media reported today that smart robots have been deployed to the China-Singapore Friendship Library in the country’s northern port city Tianjin to help transport books.
Three robot carriers are now in active service at the library, partly freeing staff from the physical labor of carrying books from one location to another.
Media reported that they can move 25,000 books every day, equivalent to the daily workload of 15 human librarians.
The library, which is a local landmark in Binhai New Area of Tianjin, opened to the public in 2018 as part of a friendship program between China and Singapore.
Sitting on 35,000 sqm of land, the library boasts 35,000 books and can receive 5,000 visitors every day, the state-run China Daily reported in 2021.
Due to the large volume of visitors, to archive the books and keep them in running order has been a challenge for the library management.
The introduction of smart robot carriers has made life easier for librarians, as these devices are able to move books to designated spots after identifying and sorting 60 books into specific categories.
It’s unclear where the library sources its robots from, but online pictures show that they bear the logo of ForwardX (灵动科技), a domestic autonomous robot developer.
When boxes for returned books are filled to the brim, the robots will automatically transfer them to a sorting area to be rearranged according to subjects, so as to speed up inventory of books within the library.
These robots are designed to make calls to take elevators by themselves and deliver books to different stories of the building as per staff requirements.
Aside from performing autonomous tasks, these gadgets also can follow the librarian upon his or her request to a designated location to handle books.
The library’s smart sorting and return system, consisting of robotics at its core, has been operational for three years and counting, considerably enhancing inventory efficiency, media reported.
Libraries across China have been on a similar drive in recent years to automate the archiving and transportation of books on premises, buying robots to help catalog titles in librarians’ stead.