Research and Development in Robotic Systems

Collision Testing with Robots for Mechanical Risk Analysis

© Fraunhofer IFF
© Fraunhofer IFF

A mechanical risk analysis that determines whether humans are subject to increased risk of injury is mandatory whenever workplaces with human-robot collaboration are set up and commissioned. The greatest risk of injury comes from unintentional contact between humans and robots, e.g. being pinned or colliding among other things.

Future standards will stipulate that the mechanical load on a human body during unintentional contact may cause no more than harmless trivial injuries. The Fraunhofer IFF’s one-of-a-king laboratory and testing facility enables it to test every variable of simulated human-robot collisions relevant to safety, regardless of the particular type of robot. We are not limited to any particular scenario or any particular application. Our flexible and mobile measurement systems make it possible to take measurements directly at a robot cell or on a mobile robot in our laboratory and at users’ facilities, thus making it possible to subject and entire human-robot collaboration scenario to a complete and customized risk analysis in keeping with the latest guidelines.

Among other things, the Fraunhofer IFF’s extensive equipment includes a high-resolution TekScan pressure mapping system, a high-speed camera and, exclusively, the KOLROBOT measurement system from the Institute for Occupational Safety and Health IFA. This system measures impact and gripping forces directly on a robot. A combination of springs and shock-absorbing materials reproduce different regions of the human body.

The findings of a collision test can be directly used for the mechanical risk assessment whenever new workplaces with human-robot collaboration are being set up. What is more, collaborating robots’ operations and speeds can be systematically tested and, if necessary, optimized on the basis of the findings.