Safety Guidance Coming for ‘Collaborative’ Robots
Safety standards coming for robots designed to work alongside humans.
So-called “collaborative” robots are designed to work safely alongside humans without requiring isolation behind a safety cage. Perhaps the best-known example is the Baxter robot from Rethink Robotics, Boston. For safety, it incorporates 360° sonar and front-facing vision system to detect human presence and perform its tasks. It can “see” in 3D, sensing height and distance. And its “servo-elastic” control prevents harmful collisions: If one of its two arms meets resistance force of less than 1 lb, it will stop, and then continue on its path once the resistance is removed (for more details, see Nov. ’13 Close Up).