Collaborative robots are designed to be used in “collaborative workspaces” with humans. Collaborative operations offer many notable advantages over other robotics procedures, but they require additional safety precautions.
According to ISO/TS 15066:2016 - Robots and robotic devices - Collaborative robots, “the objective of collaborative robots is to combine the repetitive performance of robots with the individual skills and ability of people.” A collaborative workspace successfully pairs the capability of people to solve imprecise exercises with the precision, power, and endurance of robots.
Collaborative robots (or cobots), as implied by ISO/TS 15066:2016, are not intended to replace but assist the processes done by humans in workspaces. The robots used in collaborative operations are generally simpler, cheaper, and easier to maintain than more-traditional robots. Because of these qualities, they are very lightweight, being able to be moved from task to task if necessary, and they require less skill to program.
As specified in ISO 10218-1:2011 - Robots and robotic devices - Safety requirements for industrial robots - Part 1: Robots collaborative robots are incorporated with at least one of four different features: safety-rated monitored stop, hand guiding, speed and separation monitoring, and power and force limiting by inherent design or control. These are important for the workspace’s performance and safety.
Currently, collaborative robots with these features are in use for a variety of applications, from those more lightweight to others that are more heavy duty. Some widely used applications of cobots include machine tending, packaging, and material handling.
In many of the applications in which people and robot systems collaborate, there exist ergonomic advantages, such as improved worker posture. However, these benefits are highly dependent on safety precautions in the collaborative workspace.
Collaborative robot safety considerations are significantly different from those for traditional robots, because the person in the workspace can be either in close proximity to or directly interacting with the robots. ISO/TS 15066:2016 gives safety guidelines for collaborative workspaces by establishing their design in a manner that identifies all related hazards.
ISO/TS 15066:2016 - Robots and robotic devices - Collaborative robots is now available on the ANSI Webstore.
This document works in harmony with related guidelines identified in:
ISO 10218-1:2011 - Robots and robotic devices - Safety requirements for industrial robots - Part 1: Robots