The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said this week it is launching the Center for Occupational Robotics Research.
The newly founded center aims to explore the potential benefits and risks of robotic workers and develop appropriate guidance for safe interactions between humans and robots.
“Robots working collaboratively with humans present a new workplace risk profile that is not yet well understood. Not only is this a new field for safety and health professionals, little government guidance or policy exists regarding the safe integration of robots into the workplace. NIOSH’s Center for Occupational Robotics Research will provide the scientific leadership needed to ensure human workers are protected,” NIOSH Director Dr. John Howard said in a press release.
The NIOSH said that 61 robot-related workplace deaths have occurred between 1992 and 2015. The newly founded Center for Occupational Robotics Research aims to continue to monitor injury trends with both traditional and emerging robotics technologies.
“We suspect fatalities will increase over time because of the growing number of industrial robots being used by companies in the U.S., and from the introduction of collaborative and co-existing robots, powered exoskeletons, and autonomous vehicles into the work environment. NIOSH has a history of robotics research and through the Center for Occupational Robotics Research, we are poised to proactively address the safety of today’s and tomorrow’s workers who use, wear, or work near robots,” NIOSH Division of Safety Research director Dawn Castillo said in a prepared statement.
The Center will oeprate alongside partners in academia, industry and the government to develop risk profiles for robotic workplaces and to engage in research to improve the safety and wellbeing of humans who work longside robots and robotic technologies.
The Center has aligned with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as well as the Robotics Industry Association, NIOSH said.