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Thanks to their wide range of applications and tantalizing potential, the need for practical, flexible cobot solutions continues to soar. However, they are never a straightforward option because of the minefield of regulations and standards that apply to humans and machines working side-by-side. Blue Danube Robotics GmbH, a TU Wien spin-off based in Vienna, Austria, which focuses on developing safety technology for industrial robotics, adopts a pragmatic approach to this issue. At HANNOVER MESSE 2018, it is showcasing the AIRSKIN collision sensor that it has designed to be simply and easily mounted directly onto robots and linked to their controls. This does away with the need for conventional protective barriers entirely! The company is using a mock-up palletizing system to demonstrate how a standard industrial suction gripper can be equipped with the skin to render it totally safe.

TÜV Austria helped the company to gain AIRSKIN its ISO 13849 category 3, PLe certification. "The soft pads are located in a safety layer that covers the robot in the form of a second skin, which also guards the points that could potentially trap or crush. Should a robot and human worker or object collide, the sensor reacts and performs an emergency stop in an instant. What's more, the soft pads dampen forces that could result until the machine is brought to a final halt. These properties make AIRSKIN ideal for use in applications that need to comply with ISO/TS 15066," says Dr. Walter Wohlkinger, Managing Director of Blue Danube Robotics.