Human and robot system interaction in industrial settings is now possible thanks to ISO/TS 15066, a new ISO technical specification for collaborative robot system safety.

Collaborative robotics is when automatically operated robot systems share the same workspace with humans. It refers to a system or application rather than a particular type or brand of robot. Industrial robots do not include an “end effector,” that is, the device at the end of a robotic arm that interacts with the environment while a robot system does.

Industrial robot systems are usually separated from humans to protect people from injury. However, with new technology advancements, there is growing potential to safely bring the power and precision of robots closer together with the creative and problem-solving ability of humans. This could dramatically increase productivity.

Up until now, robot system suppliers and integrators only had general information about requirements for collaborative systems. ISO/TS 15066 is a game changer for the industry. It gives specific, data-driven safety guidance needed to evaluate and control risks.

In collaborative robotics, humans and robotic equipment can have an overlapping workspace where both perform tasks. ISO/TS 15066 provides guidelines for the design and implementation of a collaborative workspace that reduces risks to people. It specifies:

  • Definitions
  • Important characteristics of safety control systems
  • Factors to be considered in the design of collaborative robot systems
  • Built-in safety-related systems and their effective use
  • Guidance on implementing the following collaborative techniques: safety-rated monitored stop; hand guiding; speed and separation monitoring; power and force limiting.

According to ISO, this is just the first step for a developing industry. ISO/TS 15066 provides a foundation for work in this area, with the expectation there is more to learn as applications are deployed and technology develops.

>Read more by Maria Lazarte, ISO News, March 8, 2016

Robots and humans can work together with new ISO guidance