Evaluating Safety and Productivity Relationship in Human-Robot Collaboration

Aayush Jain, School of Food Science and Environmental Health, Technological University of Dublin & Irish Manufacturing Research, Ireland
Shakra Mehak, School of Food Science and Environmental Health, Technological University of Dublin & Pilz Ireland, Ireland
Philip Long, Atlantic Technological University
John D. Kelleher, Technological University Dublin
Michael Guilfoyle, Pilz Ireland, Ireland
Maria Chiara Leva, Technological University Dublin

Document Type Conference Paper

32nd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2022)
28th August – 1st September 2022, Dublin, Ireland



Collaborative robots can improve ergonomics on factory floors while allowing a higher level of flexibility in production. The evolution of robotics and cyber-physical systems in size and functionality has enabled new applications which were never foreseen in traditional industrial robots. However, the current human-robot collaboration (HRC) technologies are limited in reliability and safety, which are vital in risk-critical scenarios. Certainly, confusion about European safety regulations has led to situations where collaborative robots operate behind security barriers, thus negating their advantages while reducing overall application productivity.
Despite recent advances, developing a safe collaborative robotic system for performing complex industrial or daily tasks remains a challenge. Multiple influential factors in HRC make it difficult to define a clear classification to understand the depth of collaboration between humans and robots. In this article, we review the state of the art in reliable collaborative robotic work cells and propose a reference model to combine influential factors such as robot autonomy, collaboration, and safety modes to redefine HRC categorization.