As the world is moving towards the era of Industry 4.0, human beings are getting more opportunities to cooperate with robots in same work places. However, since sharp-edged robots don't know their own strength, they can be dangerous to their human colleagues.
To retain the harmony between the two major workforces, researchers from Germany's DLR Robotics and Mechatronics Center (DLRRMC) have come up with a "straightforward" idea, putting airbags on robotic arms.
DLRRMC released a video recently to demonstrate their outcome with a collaborative assembly task. In the video, the robotic arm's manipulating part is covered by airbag that can compress and extend.
When transporting objects, the airbag stretches to its maximum capacity and a light inside turns green at the same time. The airbag retracts when grabbing objects to give full flexibility to the exposed parts and the light turns red at this point.
When accident happens, the airbag will protect people from being hit directly by sharp machines.
The project can be dated back to 2016 when the airbag made its first public appearance at the Automatica 2016, an annual robotic fair held in Germany.
The team also released another video in March showing a researcher slapped by a robotic arm straightly in the face under various speeds to test the efficiency of the airbag.