Physical contact between humans and robots is usually unavoidable when they share a workplace. Contact is even necessary or desired in certain human-robot interaction (HRI) scenarios. This makes protection of humans complicated since sensor systems are hardly able to differentiate between desired and undesired contact. The protection of humans from injury in the event of contact must therefore be guaranteed.
The risk of injury from a collision is largely dependent on the area of contact and the maximum contact force resulting. Several test stands have been set up at the Fraunhofer IFF to systematically test collisions. We are able to test collisions with robots, humans and simulated parts of the human body. Tests are principally aimed at:
- Supporting standardization efforts in the field of human-robot interaction
- Testing soft and pliable surfaces for robots
- Developing equipment that supports the certification of workplaces with HRI
- Testing robots’ and manipulators’ collision properties
Initial tests have confirmed that the maximum contact force largely depends on a robot’s traversing velocity. A reduction in speed can drop the resultant maximum contact force below a critical level. They also confirmed that a soft robot surface and reduction of moving mass additionally reduces the contact forces.
We offer interested manufactures of robots and safety systems extensive testing of various collision scenarios. We employ a large assortment of spring and damper systems that simulate relevant parts of the human body. We are also able to perform quantitative tests on safety features such as soft surfaces and flexible actuators.