Putting People and Robots Together in Manufacturing: Are We Ready?

  • Sarah R. FletcherEmail author
  • Teegan L. Johnson
  • Jon Larreina
Part of the Intelligent Systems, Control and Automation: Science and Engineering book series (ISCA, volume 95)


Traditionally, industrial robots have needed complete segregation from people in manufacturing environments to mitigate the significant risk of injury posed by their high operational speeds and heavy payloads. However, advances in technology now not only enable the application of smaller force-limited robotics for lighter industrial tasks but also wider collaborative deployment of large-scale robots. Such applications will be critical to future manufacturing but present a design and integration challenge as we do not yet know how closer proximity and interactions will impact on workers’ psychological safety and well-being. There is a need to define new ethical and safety standards for putting people and robots together in manufacturing, but to do this we need empirical data to identify requirements. This chapter provides a summary of the current state, explaining why the success of augmenting human–robot collaboration in manufacturing relies on better consideration of human requirements, and describing current research work in the European A4BLUE project to identify this knowledge. Initial findings confirm that ethical and psychological requirements that may be crucial to industrial human–robot applications are not yet being addressed in safety standards or by the manufacturing sector.


Human–robot collaboration Collaborative robot Industrial robot Industrial safety Safety standards 



The work described in this paper was conducted as part of the A4BLUE research project ( funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme. The authors would like to thank the EC for that support and the individual partners in the project consortium for their assistance with this work.


  1. 1.
    Bogue R (2017) Robots that interact with humans: a review of safety technologies and standards. Industrial Robot: An International Journal 44(4)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Charalambous G, Fletcher S, Webb P (2015) Identifying the key organisational human factors for introducing human-robot collaboration in industry: an exploratory study. The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology 81(9–12):2143–2155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Charalambous G, Fletcher S, Webb P (2016) The development of a scale to evaluate trust in industrial human-robot collaboration. International Journal of Social Robotics 8(2):193–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Chung C (1996) Human issues influencing the successful implementation of advanced manufacturing technology. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management 13(3–4):283–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    De Krüger J, Lien T, Verl A (2009) Cooperation of human and machines in assembly lines. CIRP Annals –  Manufacturing Technology 58:628–646CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    European Commission (2010) Guide to application of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC (2nd. Ed). [online 15/09/17]
  7. 7.
    Favell A, Feldblum M, Smith M (2007) The human face of global mobility: A research agenda. Society 44(2):15–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Hedelind M, Kock S (2011) Requirements on flexible robot systems for small parts assembly, a case study. In: Procs. of the International Symposium on Assembly and Manufacturing, 25-27 May, Tampere, FinlandGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    International Federation of Robotics (IFR) (2017) The Impact of Robots on Productivity. Employment and Jobs, A Positioning paper by the International Federation of RoboticsGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Lewis M, Boyer K (2002) Factors impacting AMT implementation: an integrative and controlled study. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management 19(2):111–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Matthias B, Kock S, Jerregard H, Kallman M, Lundberg I, Mellander R (2011) Safety of collaborative industrial robots: Certification possibilities for a collaborative assembly robot concept. In: Proc. ISAM’11 (2011), pp 1–6Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    McCarthy I (2004) Special issue editorial: the what, why and how of mass customization. Production Planning & Control 15(4):347–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Michalos G, Sand Makris J, Spiliotopoulos Misios I, Tsarouchi P, Chryssolouris G (2014) ROBO-PARTNER: Seamless Human-Robot cooperation for intelligent, flexible and safe operations in the assembly factories of the future. Procedia CIRP 23:71–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Pawar V, Law J, Maple C (2016) Manufacturing robotics - the next robotic industrial revolution. Tech. rep, Technical report, UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems NetworkGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Pitts D, Recascino Wise L (2010) Workforce diversity in the new millennium: Prospects for research. Review of public personnel administration 30(1):44–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Stedmon A, Howells H, Wilson J, Dianat I (2012) Ergonomics/human factors needs of an ageing workforce in the manufacturing sector. Health promotion perspectives 2(2):112Google Scholar
  17. 17.
  18. 18.
    Unhelkar V, Siu H, Shah J (2014) Comparative performance of human and mobile robotic assistants in collaborative fetch-and-deliver tasks. In: Proc. 2014 ACM/IEEE Int. Conf. Human-robot Interaction (HRI’14), pp 82–89Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Walton M, Webb P, Poad M (2011) Applying a concept for robot-human cooperation to aerospace equipping processesGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Wang X, Kemény Z, Váncza J, Wang L (2017) Human-robot collaborative assembly in cyber-physical production: Classification framework and implementation. CIRP Annals-Manufacturing TechnologyGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah R. Fletcher
    • 1
    Email author
  • Teegan L. Johnson
    • 1
  • Jon Larreina
    • 2
  1. 1.Cranfield UniversityCranfieldUK
  2. 2.IK4-TeknikerEibarSpain

Personalised recommendations