Industrial Robots Sense Human Skin for Safety Reasons

Man and machine are buddies in the industry 4.0. The robot is a sensitive colleague who notice when caught human skin instead of a piece of steel. As it is, is focus of the trade fair for automation and Mechatronics.

Mad Hatter specialists in security technology in the industry is hard to imagine better solution. The company Mayser from Ulm currently present on the world’s largest trade fair automation and mechatronics ideas. And there, it shows how safe cooperation between humans and robots is achievable or where new concepts will grow. Well, a couple of hundred other companies and research institutes exactly do the same, because it is all about the crucial question of the industry 4.0.

contour detection by Knapp
You can be sure in the factory the shuttles are contour detection by Knapp. Photo: Knapp

Mayser has brought still felt and cotton in the form of 200 years ago, but since a few decades in particular foams are processed. Basically, the company produces upholstery for the arms and joints of robots. And it’s not as simple as it sounds: the polyurethane foam has a sensitive surface, skin that responds to touch. There are only subtle unwanted contact, the robotic arm jerks back.

Machines with emotional intelligence

The days of the work areas of industrial robots via light barrier or steel cage of his human colleagues were separated, should be passed soon. This is the vision of the industry of the future, and because security is the crucial factor. As the year an ago in a Hessian VW factory, where a young man by a robot was recorded, pressed against a wall and fatally injured, there may not be accidents.

new VR glasses by Cadcon
The user of the new VR glasses by Cadcon can set framing itself and specifically virtual content. Photo: Cadcon

Robots need to be not only smart, but also sensitive, they need a kind of emotional intelligence. Bonn University research recently on a sensor system, which should allow the machines to detect human skin. For this, special optical sensors and new image processing algorithms are needed. The project is supported by the Schmersal Group, which presented a new Configurator on the Munich fair itself. He will allow the adjustment of machines and robots on new products and processes in very simple way.

Virtual reality is still there

In addition to the safety aspect, flexibility is just the second top theme on the show and thus cost savings because it means efficiency. Therefore, many companies present also assistance for employees. An example is the company Cadcon has developed an interesting variant of the virtual-reality glasses: it provides the user the complete environment first, but manually very specific areas can view outbound and desired virtual content. The glasses are intended for Assembly work, but also the management of surveillance drones.

Robots Skin
800 exhibitors display the latest the industry 4.0, the networked factory on “Automatica” in Munich, the world’s leading industrial exhibition around robots and automation. The exhibition runs until June 24 2016. Photo: automatica