Risk assessment is critical for robotic product development, and in this Ask the Expert episode, Nathan Bivans from FORT explains the importance of risk assessment and why analysis must be done early in the design process.
The Importance of a Robot Safety Risk Assessment
A risk assessment is critical to developing any system, especially one designed to be functionally safe.
This is a process of systematically working through the functionality of whatever your machine is and determining 'what all the possible things are could go wrong?'
You need to consider how this machine you're developing is used, where it's used, and who's near it--in both its intended operation and, to a certain extent, even unintended operation.
Considerations for Robot Safety
We have traditional applications in warehouses and manufacturing, where the environment tends to be pretty controlled, we can think about things like our children or pets in the environment and say, 'Oh, we don't have to worry about that.'
In an outdoor construction site, a delivery robot, or an aerial drone can even be exposed to many different types of hazards that we've traditionally been able to discount for the very controlled environments where automation has typically been found.
By considering this at the beginning of the development process, you allow the team to mitigate risks before they get designed into the system, where you can actually change the design for minimal impact.
The goal, hopefully, is that most of these you can look at it and say if that fails, it'll stop working, so I don't really worry about it, but some of them will fall out as being very critical functions of the machine that can cause dangerous operation, and that's where the rest of functional safety comes into determine how can we mitigate those risks that we've identified you.