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The rapid introduction of the industrial robot into the manufacturing environment has created a need for new safety technology. Most companies using robots have embarked on safety programmes depending on personnel training, preventive maintenance and perimeter barriers, but these methods do not address the issue of personnel required to be close to a robot during teach-mode programming, maintenance and trouble-shooting. The paper discusses results of a research project underway at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to develop a computer-controlled sensor system that will monitor the working envelope of a robot; and, if a dangerous situation occurs, will cause the robot to take corrective action to avoid personnel injury or damage to the robot or equipment. The sensor technologies investigated include microwave, ultrasound, infra-red and capacitive.