Who is this for and what is this?

This web page is made to help educators who want to teach how to use collaborative robots safely.

The material is divided into four parts called micro-challenges, these are constructed in a way that students can perform any one of them. This way it is not a prerequisite to participate in challenge 1 to participate in challenge 2, 3 or 4.

The material was developed as an international collaboration between vocational teaching schools. It was held in 2022-2023 with participants from Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Spain. Each participating school hosted a micro-challenge for four students from each school. The involved teachers and students networked and shared their expertise and learned from each other.

This webpage is a manual on how to run these micro-challenges in safety in collaborative robotics.


Motivation

The objective is to increase the knowledge and skills of students enrolled in collaborative robotics-related programs. The labor market needs are a driver for the activities we do.

The ability to direct their activities and actively participate in a working group, as well as other social and interaction skills is just as important than work technology skills and other content expertise. To reflect this, the learning goals for the micro-challenges are:

– Being aware of robot related hazards and being able to identify and mitigate them

– Understanding basic safety guidelines for robotic applications

– Identifying key elements related to robot safety

– Applying provisions of safety standards in different operations with robots (design and manufacturing, programming, maintenance, and machine communication)

– Enhancing soft skills relevant to working life (e.g., problem solving, teamwork, presentation skills, English communication, time management)

There are many safety aspects one must consider when designing and using a collaborative robot. The aspects we are focusing on in Robocup are the following:

– Robot tool design. Using a collaborative robot in a safe environment, but with a tool that is sharp or has the possibility to get fingers stuck, it is not safe and can not be considered collaborative.

– Robot programming. The main use of a robot is to perform automatable tasks. It should be possible to make some changes to the environment around the robot without writing the entire program again. It should also be possible to add a program from one robot to another without writing the program from scratch.

– Use of safety equipment. In the industry, many robots can not be used in a collaborative environment. This could be due to the tools used, the objects it is manipulating or the fact that the robot is not a collaborative robot. In these scenarios, additional safety features are needed. This could be external sensors and safety switches.


Structure of the whole program

Each micro-challenge lasts for a week and has a structure inspired by WorldSkills competitions with team building, presentation of the task, performing the task and finally presentation and evaluation. Companies from country hosting the challenge were involved in evaluating and giving feedback on the final product.

During student work, the educators will observe the students and give some feedback, paying special attention to: division of tasks according to each participant´s strengths, balanced participation, decision making, creativity, time management, communication among team members, cooperation within team members and between teams, information search and management, frustration and emotional management.

Micro-challenges:

1. “Get a grip”.

Safety regarding design and manufacturing of a robot gripper (3D printing)


2. “Test for success”.

Test a gripper on a robot


3. “Play safe!”.

Safe access to the workspace (light curtain, virtual safety boundaries, emergency stop button, door switches? safety PLC? Sensor to detect object.)


4. “Better together”.

Integration with PLC (programable logic controller) and HMI (human machine interface) communicating with the robot.