Safety challenges in the interaction between people and autonomous vehicles

27 March,2023 - BY admin

Safety challenges in the interaction between people and autonomous vehicles

Safety in the operation of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) in the industrial environment is crucial to ensure the protection of people and assets in the space where their tasks are carried out. These systems are rapidly expanding due to the multiple benefits they offer, but at the same time, the increase in their number and the complexity of their tasks generate new risks that must be properly managed.

ISO 3691-4 is an international standard that establishes preventive measures and technical specifications to ensure the safety of autonomous vehicles. This standard is essential for any AGV or AMR implementation project, as it provides a complete guide on how to design the vehicle and the installation, as well as the safety measures that must be implemented.

Artificial intelligence applied to localization systems (SLAM), motion planning (Path-Planning), and fleet management systems are also key tools in the safe operation of autonomous vehicles. These constantly evolving applications allow optimizing processes and ensuring the efficiency of autonomous vehicles, knowing the real-time position of each robot.

Safe implementation of AGV and AMR systems by Pilz

Pilz, as experts in safety, has developed a nine-step method for the safe implementation of these systems.

  1. What legal environment are we working in? Which directives and standards are applicable? (Machinery Directive, ISO 12100, ISO 3691-4)
  2. Safety requirements. What dangers exist in our application? What methods should we follow to reduce risks?
  3. Which safety functions need to be applied? Are the functional safety requirements of both the vehicle and its interaction with other machines being considered?
  4. System verification. It is necessary to check the correct implementation and operation of safety measures, detection systems, stop times, and other critical system elements.
  5. User information. It includes the instruction manual, but also additional safety measures, such as light and sound signals that warn people when the AGV is approaching.
  6. Integration space characteristics. The AGV system must be integrated into an existing environment that must be known.
  7. Evaluation of the application area. Is there a transfer of loads?
  8. Other elements to consider. Will there be additional machine equipment? Elevators, turning stations, closures...
  9. Staff training. People who will be operating the AGVs and who will be in the same working area must be trained. They must know the risks involved and how to act to avoid them.

Improving safety through 3D sensors

One field whose development will allow for improved safety in this environment is safe sensor technology. Often, the devices attached to these machines to guide and avoid collisions work on a two-dimensional plane, leaving out of the detection range everything that is above a certain height. Safe sensors with 3D detection capability, such as the PSEN radar from Pilz, will be a major breakthrough in many of these applications.

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