Collaborative Robot Safety Features
Before the development of collaborative robots, humans and industrial robots had limited interactions with one another due to the safety hazards of robots. Traditional industrial robots require safety fencing to enclose them from direct contact with humans, preventing the capability of collaborative work. However, the creation of collaborative robots has eliminated the need for safety fencing and opened up the manufacturing world to humans and robots working side by side together. The ability for people and robots to work collaboratively gives manufacturers greater flexibility and boosts productivity levels. You may be wondering if it is possible for humans and robots to coexist on the same production floor, but the safety features of cobots make this a reality. These safety features are defined by the ANSI/RIA R15.06 and the ISO 10218 safety standards.
Collaborative robots feature a unique design that differentiates them from traditional industrial robots. Not only does their design make them stand out from other robots, but it serves a purpose to protect humans from direct impacts with cobots. Collaborative robots like the FANUC CR-7iA feature rounder designs than other industrial robots. This helps prevent worker injuries from occurring if contact should happen between the robot and human. The elimination of sharp edges allows for gentler contact should interaction occur. The design of collaborative robots also eliminates any pinch points and internalizes the robot’s motors and wires. The FANUC CR-35iA takes it design a step further for collision protection by covering the entire robot body with a soft green rubber material.
Collaborative robots, such as the FANUC CR-15iA, are equipped with force sensing technology. Force sensing technology is one of the defining safety features of collaborative robots. This allows cobots to detect if any abnormal force has been applied to the robot arm while in operation. The force sensors will then adjust the operation speed to slow down or completely stop, protecting the human operator from any impact with the robot. Collaborative robots are also equipped with speed monitoring technology. Speed monitoring gives the robot the capability to adjust its speed depending on if a human worker is detected within its workspace or not.
The evolving programming technology has provided additional safety features for collaborative robots. Collaborative robot programming has become much easier thanks to options such as hand guidance technology. Hand guidance programming provides users with the capability to manually guide the collaborative robot arm through an application path in order to program the robot. This option makes programming cobots a breeze and is especially useful for users with limited programming experience. The ease of programming through hand guidance provides an additional safety feature to operators as it helps to eliminate errors that could occur during programming, which may result in dangerous human interactions. ISO 10218 and ISO/TS 15066 define the safety standards needed for hand guidance technology in collaborative robots. These safety standards include a teaching mode in which the robot is stopped and enters a zero-gravity level of movement for safe interaction with the programmer. FANUC’s CR series of collaborative robots, which includes the FANUC CR-4iA, all feature hand guidance technology.
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