From an occupational safety and health (OSH) perspective, the most frequent threat to workers’ health is two-fold:
- Musculoskeletal disorders due to material handling, repetitive movements, and awkward body postures.
- Exposure to extreme risks even in routine tasks in certain work environments (nuclear, construction, disaster response, marine, chemical, etc.), e.g., explosions, contaminations, fires, confined spaces, debris, toxic gases, etc.
The recent emergence of exoskeleton and humanoid robot systems in applications as diverse as assistance and operation in unstructured and hazardous environments has lent an impetus to leading edge research investigations in the field.
The Sistemi Cibernetici Collaborativi project in collaboration with INAIL (“Istituto Nazionale per l'Assicurazione contro gli Infortuni sul Lavoro” - National Institute for Insurance against Workplace Injuries, Italy) CUP J32F17000950005 aims to design and develop collaborative robotic technologies dedicated to improving the condition of health and safety in industrial applications.
This projects aims to improve occupational health on the factory floor through assistance, i.e., aiding the worker in their tasks through a wearable, modular, full-body exoskeleton.
The design, consisting of arm and lower back modules, is focused on flexibility (adaptability to different tasks) and comfort, fully profiting from the combination of human flexibility and the assistance in tasks through active control.
This project aims to enhance occupational safety in hazardous environments through substitution, i.e., removing the worker from the unsafe area and using robotic technologies to do the same tasks through remote robotic teleoperation. A collaborative system is proposed:
- A FIELD robot composed of a hydraulically-driven, quadruped robotic platform, augmented with a dexterous manipulator arm; and
- A MASTER station consisting of a haptic master exoskeleton, a navigation joystick device, and 3D user interfaces for intuitive remote teleoperation.