Saturday, May 20, 2006

Guidelines for Robot Conduct to be Written

Japan's industry ministry plans to compile safety guidelines for next-generation robots that will be providing services in areas like nursing, security and cleaning, ministry officials said Saturday.

The guidelines will require manufacturers to install enough sensors to minimize the risk of the robots running into people and use soft and light materials so they do not cause harm if they do so, the officials said.

They will also be required to install emergency shut-off buttons, they said.

Calls have been mounting for safety guidelines on the next-generation robots as they may be used for various purposes because of possible labor shortage due to Japan's sharp population decline.

While safety guidelines are set under the Occupation Health and Safety Law for the current generation of robots, which are typically used on factory production lines, there is the opinion that different guidelines are necessary for the advanced models.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plans to complete the guidelines by the end of the year, the officials said.

The ministry will also consider establishing an independent organization to conduct safety tests on robots and legal systems to provide insurance in case of accidents.

Safety guidelines to be set for next-generation robots


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