Futuribles Journal n° 399

Entreprises, travail - Recherche, sciences, techniques

Physical Assistance Robots: Advantages of the New Human-Robot Pairing at Work and the Attendant Risks


In 2013 the French Research Institute for Occupational Safety (INRS) carried out a foresight study on physical assistance robots with 2013 as its time-horizon. Futuribles took part in this study, the conclusions of which were published in late 2013. In this article Michel Héry, who coordinated the working group in charge of the exercise, outlines its conclusions with regard to health and safety.

After reminding us of the current economic context, characterized by a major crisis that is also a crisis of modes of production, he shows how physical assistance robots (PARs) can be regarded as new actors in the world of work, providing examples of their roles: exoskeletons, CoBots, human-robot collaborative units, robots for operation in a hostile environment etc. While stressing the contribution made by these physical assistance robots in various occupational tasks, Héry also alerts us to the possible dangers for workers manipulating these PARs and to the need to monitor the development of this new human-robot pairing and to remain vigilant about its health and safety impact.

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