Human-Robot Collaboration 2.0

Context & Aim

Survey on collaborative robot adoption clearly indicated that safety and viability based on cost and speed are the biggest concerns over collaborative robot adoption. This project set about demystifying those concerns by understanding the principles of the standards and designing shared human robot workspace which can be made viable without adding significant cost or installation of safety barriers based on a generic application 

Challenge

Using a Physical Demonstrator, prove that in a shared workspace where the operator and robot need to coexist, the collaborative cell can compete with a fully manual cell in terms of ease of setup, low cost of additional equipment and productivity, while ensuring the safety of the operator 

Solution

Phase1 of this project identified operating zones where the risks of a collision or impact went from no risk to minor risk to major risk and altered the robot and speed in each zone so that the robot impact on the human causes no injury. While the phase passed third party risk assessment, cycle times were too long to make it viable. This phase set about reducing cycle time, while maintaining the necessary safety features, by:

  • Removing or reducing any unnecessary travel and wait times or the robot 
  • Optimising the trajectory movements of the robot while minimising impacts or collisions 
  • Adding extra safety devices to slow or stop the robot when the human is working collaboratively with the robot 

Results

  • With no additional safety devices, the cell can pass a risk assessment and become a viable option 
  • By adding some low cost off the shelf safety devices, the cell can hit a higher output than the human equivalent for the chosen application 
  • Based on the specification of the robot and the application, the return on investment on the robot fully installed can be as little as 2 years 
  • The experience gained concerning safety zones and speeds can are transferable to most collaborative applications 

Impact

In using a standard collaborative robot and a generic application, the research dispels some of the biggest concerns in Industry around safety of collaborative cells and their ability to perform as productively as aequivalent fully manual cell. As the cell is risk assessed by an external partner this project translates the requirements of the standards into a physical demonstrator to which industry can relate and understand. 

Optimising the Efficiency of a Human-Robot Collaboration Application

PROJECT MANAGER

Philip Long
Senior Robotics Researcher

THEMATIC PILLAR

Automation & Advanced Control

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