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In the framework of physical human-robot interaction (pHRI), methodologies and experimental tests are presented for the problem of detecting and reacting to collisions between a robot manipulator and a human being. Using a lightweight robot that was especially designed for interactive and cooperative tasks, we show how reactive control strategies can significantly contribute to ensuring safety to the human during physical interaction. Several collision tests were carried out, illustrating the feasibility and effectiveness of the proposed approach. While a subjective ldquosafetyrdquo feeling is experienced by users when being able to naturally stop the robot in autonomous motion, a quantitative analysis of different reaction strategies was lacking. In order to compare these strategies on an objective basis, a mechanical verification platform has been built. The proposed collision detection and reactions methods prove to work very reliably and are effective in reducing contact forces far below any level which is dangerous to humans. Evaluations of impacts between robot and human arm or chest up to a maximum robot velocity of 2.7 m/s are presented.
Date of Conference: 22-26 Sept. 2008