recommended reading

We Can Now Work Next to Our Robot Colleagues Without Getting Mauled to Death, Thanks to an Airbag

Robots fasten parts on a new 2015 aluminum-alloy body Ford F-150 truck in the body shop at the company's Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Mo.

Robots fasten parts on a new 2015 aluminum-alloy body Ford F-150 truck in the body shop at the company's Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Mo. // Charlie Riedel/AP

German researchers at the DLR Robotics and Mechatronics Center are working to create a safer workplace for both man and robot. One solution they’ve come up with: airbags for robots.

An inflatable cushion surrounds a heavy or sharp tool (like a claw or a gripper) on a robotic arm; when there’s a human working nearby, he or she can inflate the cushion. That way, if the robot collides into a person, it feels like a slap in the face with a pillow—not like getting hit by a frying pan.

According to industry safety standards, the maximum speed for a robot with a mounted tool is 1 meter per second. Even at that speed, the hard metal body of a robotic arm, let alone the pointy edge of a tool, could be injurious. But with an airbag the robot is “intrinsically safe” at all times, according to the DLR Robotics team.

Watch the video here to see the robot airbag in action.

Threatwatch Alert

Network intrusion

Pizza Hut Website, Mobile App Burned by Hackers

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov