Too many robot designers assume that their products will be operating with little human contact. So claims a team of NASA engineers who have devised a procedure to assure that safety as well as performance is stressed in the design of robots. The methodology involves five main steps and a number of subsets. For a given application, the procedure assigns minimum acceptable values for performance specifications, such as robot-tip velocities, payloads, position, force accuracy, and dexterity. It also provides values for safety requirements, for example, robot static and impact contact force, pinch forces, and crushing forces from robot weights. For a description of the procedure go to www.nasatech.com and access the Technical Support Package under the Machinery/Automation category.
It won't be too much longer and hardware design, as we used to know it, will be remembered alongside the slide rule and the Karnaugh map. You will need to move beyond those familiar bits and bytes into the new world of software centric design.
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