Assuring safety for physically assistive robots workshop
AAIP's Dr Ibrahim Habli is part of the organising committee for this first workshop on assuring the safety for physically assistive robots, which will be part of IROS 2019.
Dr. Richard Hawkins from AAIP will give a talk on a Body of Knowledge for the safety assurance of robotic and autonomous systems.
More information about the workshop
Robotics and autonomous systems are emerging as disruptive technologies with the potential to provide personalised and cost-effective support for a range of care-related tasks for people with disabilities. These include the provision of physical and social assistance and physiotherapy.
In human-robot interaction, safe and reliable operation is crucially dependent on integration of physical and cognitive aspects of the user(s) involved in the interaction as well as upon the sensing hardware, software, and artificial intelligence platform. Ensuring operational safety of a physically assistive robot, in a range of real-world contexts, therefore represents the major barrier limiting the commercial deployment of the assistive robots in care facilities and individual homes. It is worth noting that the safety barrier to commercial development has already been overcome for embedded control systems and software – in certain sectors such as defence, aerospace, and transportation – along with a mature approach to design and assurance. These have yet to be fully applied to assistive robots operating in a domestic and healthcare environment.
In order to ensure real-world deployment and commercialisation, application-focussed research into safe and transparent human-robot interaction, hazard analysis and risk assessment, in a range of dynamic environments and scenarios of use, is needed.
There are a few technical, regulatory and care standards, the most relevant of these being the BS EN ISO 13482: 2014 Robots and robotic devices — safety requirements for personal care robots. Also the BS EN 12182-2012 standard - assistive products for persons with disability — general requirements and test methods, focus on the strength and durability of the hardware; they consider amongst other parameters, the clinical evaluation, referencing EN ISO 13971, and electrical and temperature safety, as well as the ingress of liquids in spillage scenarios.
While these standards include considerations relating to safety-related control systems governance, physical motion, operational space, environmental sensing, stability, force control, untoward events and the design of the user interface, there are key gaps from end-user and environmental perspectives. There needs to be more discussion and development as to how changes in the environment, as well as changing needs of a user with a progressive condition where their physical and cognitive ability changes, will affect system safety and behaviour. As such, there is opportunity to also consider performance criteria, test methods and hazard analyses approaches that can apply to a range of pragmatic, assistive tasks in real-world environments and situations.
The research is particularly significant given the vulnerability of the end-users interacting with these systems – giving rise to a range of very complex safety-related issues and ethical concerns. It is necessary to therefore carefully and deeply consider the safety and use of physically assistive robots at not just an operational and functional level – but also from human factors and clinical efficacy perspectives.
The objectives of this workshop include:
- Reviewing the state of the art in physically assistive robots which are already deployed, as well as those being currently developed.
- Reviewing the existing methods and approaches for safety assurance for these systems
- Reviewing the requirements for real-world use of physically assistive robots by disabled people with different accessibility needs
- Identifying critical barriers to assurance and regulation
- Analysing the adequacy of existing guidelines and standards for physically assistive robots and identify gaps in the current standards using a set of real-world use cases