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.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
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