Nowadays it is impossible to imagine industry without robots. Safety laser scanners mostly safeguard dangerous areas and protect people from collisions.
Fraunhofer researchers have developed a new, high-frequency radar scanner that cuts through these obstacles.
It can monitor its environment in a 360-degree radius, making it ideal for safety applications wherever people and robots work together.
Robots are already becoming widely established in German factories. But how can companies be sure to split the work between people and robots such that human workers don’t lose out on the desirable tasks? An event marking the start of the AQUIAS project showcased approaches to guaranteeing quality of work for manufacturing employees, including those with severe disabilities for safe human robot interaction.
The new dimension of collaboration between humans and robots can be measured in just a few centimeters: the latest generation of high-precision sensors tells the robotic arms of today’s manufacturing assistants to stop whenever a person gets near. This happens so fast and so reliably that the otherwise standard safety barrier can be dispensed with. And it is this level of safety that makes it possible for people and machines to work hand in hand, in turn allowing companies to completely redesign how humans and robots can share tasks.
Continuous adaptation makes for more natural interactions between robots and humans in shared tasks
A robot’s role in a shared task could be continuously adjusted during the activity, thanks to a new adaptive robot control system developed by A*STAR researchers that can sense whether a human operator wants to lead or follow. The innovation takes human–robot interactions to a new level of sophistication and opens a range of applications for robots that were previously too difficult to achieve.
Humans are assisted by robots in everything from automotive manufacturing through to delicate surgical procedures and even search and rescue operations, but there remains much room for improvement and expansion of their roles. “Robots are still not as intelligent as we expect and this is particularly clear when it comes to human–robot interactions,” says Li Yanan from the A*STAR Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R).
Read more: Robot human interaction: Who’s the master?