CoHaptics Aims to Increase Human Safety on the Manufacturing Floor
Engineers at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) have developed a system that merges collaborative robots and haptics for increased safety on the factory floor. Mobile robots deployed in the manufacturing industry have increased over the years, with 20,000 new installations annually.
Safety is also a concern as humans and robots often work in the same areas. To that end, the team designed a system known as CoHaptics, which can track human’s movements via a wrist-worn system and provide haptic feedback for potential collisions with robots working in the immediate area.
Collaborative robots are designed to be safe around humans and are usually outfitted with force/torque sensors that stop the robot’s movement after coming in contact with humans. The problem here is that robots can still harm humans and only stop movement after hitting an object or worker.
CoHaptics is made to warn of any impending impact before it happens, thus stopping any potential harm. The system was designed using a wrist-mounted 6-DoF camera that acts as a tracking system and collects data robots can use to determine human locations within their proximity. If potential collisions exist, the haptic feedback will warn the wearer via a warning sign and touching motion that denotes distance with said robots.
In testing, the engineers found that users responded to the haptic feedback within an average time of 0.32 seconds, which is fast enough to prevent a possible collision. They’ve also developed an algorithm, known as haptic potential field, to increase that safety even further by altering the robot’s movement trajectory away from humans in the event of a collision.