NEXT-GENERATION COLLABORATIVE ROBOTIC SYSTEMS FOR INDUSTRIAL SAFETY AND HEALTH
Free (open access)
187 - 200
NIKHIL DESHPANDE, JESÚS ORTIZ, IOANNIS SARAKOGLOU, CLAUDIO SEMINI, NIKOS TSAGARAKIS, ANAIS BRYGO, JORGE FERNANDEZ, MARCO FRIGERIO, LORENZO SACCARES, STEFANO TOXIRI, DARWIN G. CALDWELL
Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) is defined through three objectives: (i) maintenance of workers’ health; (ii) improvement of working environment and safety; and (iii) promotion of a work culture that supports health and safety. In industry, the most frequent threat to workers’ health is musculoskeletal disorders. Furthermore, even routine tasks in certain work environments (nuclear, construction, disaster response, marine, chemical, etc.) expose workers to extreme risks like explosions, contaminations, fires, confined spaces, debris, toxic gases, etc. The goal of this research is to design and develop advanced collaborative robotic technologies towards: (i) reducing workers’ physical stress and improving their health through a novel modular full-body wearable exoskeleton with arm, lower-back, and leg modules, allowing full motion dexterity; and (ii) avoiding hazard-prone worker environments and improving safety through a new collaborative master-slave teleoperation system consisting of: (a) a hydraulically-driven, quadruped field robot with a robotic manipulator arm for operation in hazardous environments; (b) a hand exoskeleton master device for teleoperation control. The article presents the current status of development of these technologies. Preliminary validation of the exoskeleton shows reductions in muscular efforts of up to 30% for the lower back. For the master-slave collaborative system, (a) the Hydraulic Quadruped robot prototypes can traverse rough environments through capabilities that include stair climbing, walking over obstacles, omni-directional trotting with step reflexes, running, jumping, and self-righting; (b) the 7 degrees-of-freedom (DOF) manipulator arm allows object manipulation in a large workspace with dexterous grasping of up to 160 N of payload; and (c) the novel HEXOTRAC 3-digit hand exoskeleton provides high-resolution tracking of fingers and provides force feedback for intuitive bilateral teleoperation of robotic manipulators. These next-generation industrial exoskeletons and collaborative teleoperation systems can address the emerging challenges in industrial workers’ health and safety.
robotic exoskeleton, occupational health, hydraulic quadruped, remote teleoperation, haptic tele-manipulation, dexterous manipulator, occupational safety, hand exoskeleton