Household Robots May Prove Lethal

A team of German researchers have conducted a series of tests — featuring robots equipped with slashing or stabbing tools — to see if a prototype safety system could minimize the potentially deadly damage inflicted.

Looking ahead at a world where humans and robots might be working together in close quarters, perhaps in a domestic capacity, the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics at the German aerospace agency conducted a series of tests to see if a safety mechanism would curb the severity of wounds inflicted by robots.

The tests involved a robot arm weighing 14kg and a 1.1m reach that was equipped with a variety of bladed household tools including a steak knife, kitchen knife, scissors and screwdriver.... The robot arm was programmed to use the bladed tools to stab and cut a silicone lump, a leg from a dead pig and the arm of a human volunteer.

Striking, stabbing and puncturing tests with the safety system turned off were performed on the silicone and pig leg. Deep cuts resulted in most cases that, the researchers said, could prove to be "lethal" if inflicted on a living subject.

When the prototype collision detection system — which uses torque sensors to spot when it has hit a different substance and halts movement — was engaged, the injuries were "significantly" reduced.

(Via BBC)