By Andy Choi
It is possible for a robot and a human to work together to carry a load with the help of intelligent assist devices (IAD). However, there are a lot of safety issues in allowing a human to work with a robot on the same workspace of an assembly line.
Robots could work with humans on a range of applications such as feeding and holding machine parts. Researchers are yet to develop robots with interaction capabilities. The current industrial manipulators cannot be used due to safety issues.
Industrial manipulators have to be remodeled to make them safe for operating closely with humans. For the same purpose, Kuka has entered the market with lightweight robotic arms. The company has developed a new robot that has been proved to guarantee safety for humans. Built with actuators and joint torque sensors, the robot has collision sensing and absorbing capacities. This robot’s power is such that it will not cause injury to a human even while performing the clamping operation.
A few industrial robots that entered the market recently include the FRIDA Robot for Industrial Dual-Arm of ABB, the human-friendly manipulator from Universal Robots and the Workerbot from German pi_4 Robotics. In addition, an energy-saving robot has been used in Toyota assembly plants that offer human-robot interaction. A teachable, safe and affordable robotic product has been launched into the market by Heartland Robotics in collaboration with MIT veteran Rodney Brooks.