Soft Robotics pp 173-183 | Cite as

Opportunities and Challenges for the Design of Inherently Safe Robots

  • Annika Raatz
  • Sebastian Blankemeyer
  • Gundula Runge
  • Christopher Bruns
  • Gunnar Borchert
Conference paper


An approach for solving the challenges that arise from the increased complexity of modern assembly tasks is believed to be human robot co-operation. In these hybrid workplaces humans and robots do not only work on the same task or interact during certain assembly steps, but also have overlapping workspaces. Therefore, ‘safe robots’ should be developed that do not harm workers in case of a collision. In this chapter, an overview of methods for designing a hardware based soft robot that is inherently safe in human-machine interaction is given. Recent projects show that robots could be soft enough for interaction but they are not able to resist forces that occur in the assembly process. Current solutions show that the designer of such robots must face a trade-off between softness and dexterity on the one hand and rigidity and load carrying capabilities on the other hand. A promising approach is to integrate variable stiffness elements in the robotic system. The chapter classifies two main design rules to achieve stiffness variability, the tuning of material properties and geometric parameters. Existing solutions are described and four concepts are presented to show how different mechanisms and materials could be combined to design safe assembly robots with a variable stiffness structure.


Shape Memory Alloy Soft Segment Variable Stiffness Nanocomposite Hydrogel Outer Chamber 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annika Raatz
    • 1
  • Sebastian Blankemeyer
    • 1
  • Gundula Runge
    • 1
  • Christopher Bruns
    • 1
  • Gunnar Borchert
    • 1
  1. 1.Leibniz University HannoverHannoverGermany

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