Robots: Humans' Dependable Helpers

Research and Development in Robotic Systems

Tactile Sensor Systems in Pressure-sensitive Flooring

Safe Person Detection

Tactile sensor systems integrated in flooring can measure the forces acting on it with a spatial resolution. This kind of flooring detects both stationary and moving objects and can be used to make machines and systems safe, or even to track flows of items and people. Pressure-sensitive flooring can additionally be used in the medical and rehabilitation sectors for fall detection and gait analysis.

In the project, the workspace of an ABB IRB1600 industrial robot was completely secured by using pressure-sensitive flooring. The tactile sensor technology of the Fraunhofer IFF was integrated in standard industrial flooring, and the pressure-sensitive flooring was configured to safely detect and localize persons in the robot's vicinity. Furthermore, its spatially-resolved position detection allowed for the individual warning and safe areas to be freely and dynamically defined. Intrusion into these safe areas is reliably detected, and the robot reacts accordingly, either by slowing down or stopping completely.

The project verified that pressure-sensitive flooring can be used to replace conventional protective barriers. Pressure-sensitive flooring is especially useful in dirty environments, where, for instance, high dust concentrations could preclude the use of optical sensor systems.

Humans and robots can co-operate more closely, and the setup and changeover times of manufacturing workplaces are reduced drastically through the use of pressure-sensitive flooring.

Pressure-sensitive flooring for workspace monitoring in human-robot interaction.