Dr. Joseph Falco


Joe Falco is an engineer in the Intelligent Systems Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) within the United States Department of Commerce. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts and an MS in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University. His most recent work has been performed within the NIST Measurement Science for Manufacturing Robotics Program and is focused on robot standards and performance metrics in the areas of robotic grasping, manipulation and assembly as well as the safety aspects of human-robot collaboration with a focus on contact safety performance. He is a member of the RIA R15 Robot Standards Approval Committee and serves as an ANSI Technical Advisor to ISO 299 with a focused effort on collaborative robot safety.

Title of talk:

Measuring the safety performance of collaborative robot systems


Collaborative robot technologies are rapidly making their way into the manufacturing sector and offer to strengthen the competitiveness of manufacturers, especially small and medium sized manufacturers, with an expected collaborative robot systems market to reach $12 billion in 2025. As these technologies find their way into manufacturing operations, ensuring the safety of human collaborators is essential and measures to validate safe operation will be paramount to their continued acceptance in the case of applications requiring close interactions with operators. These safety-based measurements continue to be developed in laboratories, often as underlying research activities to support the broader safety standards effort. The potential for collaborative applications is vast and measurements to support ISO 10218 industrial robot safety standards can be broken into two categories; the force and pressure exerted on an operator when contacted by the robot in the case of power and force limiting functionality, and the separation distance maintained by the robot in the case of speed and separation monitoring functionality. This talk will provide an overview of the state of these measures: force, pressure and separation distance, as well as supporting test methods and measurement devices with reference to ongoing research activities at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Also presented will be the results of ongoing research to develop modeling tools and artifacts to assess the injury potential to humans by robots and end-effector tooling in applications. Such models can be used to minimize the injury potential of robot contacts with humans during the robot work cell design phase to better streamline validation testing of an application prior to commissioning a collaborative robot work cell. In conjunction with the developing measurement research, a snapshot of the current status of international robot safety standards development activities that these measurements support, will be provided.