really specific to a robot technology. It’s more of an ap- plication. Long before people were selling ‘collaborative’ robots in the market, we were doing collaborative robot applications, and carefully [programming] the position and interaction of the machine.”

Defining collaborative Among the four different collaborative modes of op-

eration defined in ISO 10218, the first one, a safety-rated monitored stop, has been around for some time. “This is the most common mode of collaborative, and we’ve used this for many, many years,” he said. “We’ve had safety- rated monitored stops on a robot for as long as I’ve been in this business.” A safety-rated monitored stop is a way to coordinate

the robot’s motion with the motion of a person and it is intended in that type of application that the robot and the person would never ever come into contact. “It is a way to, for instance, arbitrate a shared space between the robot and a person and to coordinate that space via the cell-level safety control system,” Schuster said. Safety technology typically prevents most fatalities like the one that happened at the VW plant. “In a proper design, that shared space would be arbitrated by technology, so we would have sensing devices that would sense the position of the person, either with light screens or laser scanners or floor mats, and then we would have instrumentation on the robot to detect its position in relation to that shared space, so that we never let them in the same space at the same time,” Schuster said. “So there’s always sensing—sensing the human and sensing the robot—and the cell-level safety control system then coordinates those two.” A second collaborative mode, hand-guided operation,

is quite a bit less common, Schuster said. “This is where the robot kind of goes into what we call a zero-gravity or a float state, and one can actually grab the robot arm and move it to a position and then have it grip the part and then use the robot’s strength to move the part in position,” he said. “You have to think of it as kind of either like a load assist or that some people are using it as kind of a hand- guided teaching operation.” The third mode of collaborative operation as defined

by ISO 10218 is speed and separation monitoring. “This is kind of like the first one, but a little bit more sophisti- cated. My colleague calls it ‘dancing with the robot.’ This is where we are able to modulate the robot’s speed, and possibly its position, based on its proximity to the person. For instance, let’s say that a robot is operating, and as you

approach the robot you are detected, the robot will slow down and modulate its speed. We do this today all the time, so this is not new. This has been done for quite some time. At some point, when you get too close we will put the robot into the safety-rated monitored stop.” The fourth mode, power and force limiting, is really the

least sorted out of the four collaborative modes, Schuster said. “It’s really an emerging capability in the robot that al- lows the robot to modulate its force, or power, if the robot were to accidentally come into contact with the worker. This is where ISO TS 15066 comes into play—this defines doz- ens of different places on the human body, and the limits of pain on the body.” That aspect defines how much force can be applied to someone’s cheek, or on the leg or thigh, for instance. “It also defines it in the shape of the mechani- cal thing that’s touching you,” Schuster said. “If it’s a sharp pointy piece, this is where the tricky part comes in.” What’s needed are proper risk assessments and system

integration, he stressed. Rockwell also recently announced an expansion of its global Machinery Safety System Inte- grator program that was started in 2014.

New safety software For its lineup of YuMi collaborative robots, ABB Robot-

ics recently debuted an expanded SafeMove2 software, the latest generation robot-monitoring software. “Closer collaboration between robots and people brings

many benefits such as increased flexibility and productiv- ity, this is exactly why we developed this technology and the SafeMove2 product,” said Hui Zhang, head of product management at ABB Robotics (Auburn Hills, MI). “It is also important to note that SafeMove2 can work with collab- orative robots as well as conventional, standard industrial robots.” ABB’s new software updates its original SafeMove,

introduced in 2008. “Simply put, SafeMove2 is a software solution that allows robots and operators to work closer together by restricting robot motion to precisely what is needed for a specific application,” Zhang said. The SafeMove2 technology establishes safe zones, which help optimize the size of the cell on the factory floor while protecting people and equipment, and it sets safe axis ranges for a given application, rather than relying on electro-mechanical switches, he said. This increases control and flexibility while reducing maintenance requirements on mechanical parts.

“It also defines and sets safe robot speeds, so opera- tors can work within the proximity of the robot. This is a big


Fall 2016

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