Recent developments in robotics have resulted in implementations that have drastically increased collaborative interactions between robots and humans. As robots have the potential to collide intentionally and/or unexpectedly with a human during the collaboration, effective measures to ensure human safety must be devised. In order to estimate the collision safety of a robot, this study proposes a virtual sensor based on an analytical contact model that accurately estimates the peak collision force and pressure as the robot moves along a pre-defined path, even before the occurrence of a collision event, with a short computation time. The estimated physical interaction values that would be caused by the (hypothetical) collision were compared to the collision safety thresholds provided within ISO/TS 15066 to evaluate the safety of the operation. In this virtual collision sensor model, the nonlinear physical characteristics and the effect of the contact surface shape were included to assure the reliability of the prediction. To verify the effectiveness of the virtual sensor model, the force and pressure estimated by the model were compared with various experimental results and the numerical results obtained from a finite element simulation.
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