ROBOTICS AND AUTONOMOUS SYSTEMS

(A.) Policy and legislation

(A.1) Policy objectives

The importance of robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) lies in its strong economic contribution as an industrial and commercial activity in its own right and its broad and disruptive socioeconomic impact across diverse market sectors worldwide. Advanced robotics and autonomous (or near-autonomous) vehicles will have a potential annual economic impact by 2025 on a par with e.g. mobile internet, advanced materials or energy markets.

Industrial robotics has already become a cornerstone in several of Europe’s high-value manufacturing industries, such as the automotive industry, keeping these industries in Europe. This trend must be maintained, strengthened and extended to all main industries in Europe. Robotics technology also has an impact on a broad range of end-user markets and applications. The robotics professional and consumer service sectors are expected to achieve double-digit growth in the next decade and SMEs will play a key role e.g. in opening new markets. In addition to manufacturing, important future application domains for robots, with a high impact on everyday life, will include healthcare, agriculture, civil, commercial or consumer sectors, logistics and transport.

The EU’s strategic vision is to build Europe’s global position in the robotics market to account for one-third of industrial robotics, two-thirds of professional services and one-fifth of the domestic services market by 2020.

(A.2) EC perspective and progress report

In 2018, robotics standardisation has continued its work in all fronts. SPARC the public-private partnership on robotics has issued a new update of the Multi-Annual Roadmap. R&D projects on robotics funded by the EU Horizon 2020 set the scientific basis for new technologies and interoperability.

During 2018 ISO has issued two new standards on robotics, namely ISO/TR 20218-1:2018 “Robotics -- Safety design for industrial robot systems -- Part 1: End-effectors”, and ISO/TR 20218-2:2017 “Robotics -- Safety design for industrial robot systems -- Part 2: Manual load/unload stations”. Work on the other ten ISO standards on robotics is on-going and will be published in the future.

This Rolling Plan calls for increased coordination in the standardisation work led by industry, notably through the SPARC public-private partnership.

Robotics and autonomous systems is a multidisciplinary scientific and technological domain for implementing complex systems with cognitive capabilities. These include mechatronics devices, power systems and drives, actuators, sensors, data communication systems, computer software, multi-agent technologies, signal processing techniques, artificial intelligence, semantic technologies and much more. Robots can be very small or very large and have many physical aspects; for instance, they can be similar to a crane, an arm, a snake or a human body, they can have wheels or legs, and they can be vehicles able to move on the ground, in the air or under the water. Robots can also be used for a large variety of applications including industrial manufacturing, logistics, maintenance, precision farming, autonomous driving, space exploration, surveillance, emergency and rescue, commercial services, health care, rehabilitation, assistive living, entertainment, education and social interaction.

Therefore, the number of standards that affect robotic engineering is very large. Some of the required standards address the robotics field exclusively, but robotics also inherits standards from related technological domains such as electromechanical engineering, electronics, information technologies, telecommunications, production management, geographical information and so forth.

At the worldwide level, the most active international organisation on standardisation on robotics is ISO. It has appointed a technical committee specifically devoted to robotics: ISO/TC299. This Committee is structured in six working groups.

  • WG 1 – Vocabulary and Characteristics
  • WG 2 – Personal Care Robot Safety
  • WG 3 – Industrial Safety
  • WG 4 – Service Robots
  • JWG 5 – Medical Robot Safety
  • WG 6 – Modularity for Service Robots

The following link gives a catalogue of the standards developed by the technical committee ISO/TC299:

https://www.iso.org/committee/5915511/x/catalogue/

At European level, the most active organisations are the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC). CEN-CENELEC provides European standards on robotics by means of its Sector Forum on Machinery Safety. The following link gives a list of harmonised European standards on machinery including several standards specifically designed for robotic machines:

https://ec.europa.eu/growth/single-market/european-standards/harmonised-standards/machinery_en

In addition, associations such as IEEE and OCEANIS are also active in conducting technical studies and proposing standards, particularly in the area of ethics in autonomous and intelligent systems.

More generally, standardisation activities in robotics can be grouped in four main areas:

  • Foundations. This set of standards covers vocabulary and characteristics that provide suitable definitions as a reference for other standards. It includes, among others, the following standards: ISO 89787 (Coordinate Systems), ISO 19649 (Vocabulary for Mobile Robots) and ISO 8373 (General terms and Definitions).
  • Robotic safety. The bulk of robotic standards are connected with personal and functional safety and regulations for machinery such as EN/ISO 13849-1, IEC/EN 62061. However, the particularities of robotics and its applicability to industrial and non-industrial environments has made it necessary to develop more specific standards such as ISO/TS 15066 (Safety of collaborative robots) which builds further on EN/ISO 10218-1 and EN/ISO 10218-2 (Robots and robotic devices -- Safety requirements for industrial robots) or EN/ISO 13482 (Robots and robotic devices — Safety requirements for personal care robots), ISO/TS 15066 (Safety of collaborative robots), ISO TC184/SC2/WG7 (Personal care robot safety), IEC TC62/SC62A and ISO TC184/SC2 JWG9 (Medical electrical equipment and systems using robotic technology). The increased autonomy of robots due to the adoption of Artificial Intelligence, and the application of robotics in non-industrial environments such as healthcare, agriculture, autonomous driving and private homes, must be accompanied by the revision of existing standards and the development of new safety standards addressing specific issues. As an example, the robotics community has requested recently the development of new safety standards that prescribe testing procedures for wearable robots, such as exoskeletons for rehabilitation and worker support.
  • Robotics system integration and interoperability. Current robots can be made up of very different functional subsystems (dynamic control, perception, navigation, task planning, trajectory planning, human interaction, etc.) that must be integrated through complex interfaces. Also, robotic systems can cooperate with other systems by means of other interfaces. Many of the standards that define these interfaces are inherited from more general domains such as electromechanical engineering and ICT. But some standards are designed to fit robotics-specific requirements, for instance ISO 9409 (mechanical interfaces) and ongoing work in ISO/TC 299/WG6, ISO TC184/SC2/WG10 (Modularity for service robots). At least three areas need further development:
  • Robot programming languages and communication protocols for robot controllers. This area is mostly dominated by proprietary standards developed by robot manufacturers, such as the robot programming languages Rapid (ABB), PDL2 (Comau), KRL (Kuka), etc. The increasing level of integration of robots in complex systems creates a need to standardise programming languages and communication protocols.
  • Robot operating systems. Robot operating systems are software platforms run in conventional computers that connect various robotic subsystems (perception, control, reasoning, planning, etc.) to perform complex tasks. Strictly speaking, they are not actual operating systems, but a middleware layer. They determine and manage the environment for the interoperability of all the software components of the robotic system, irrespective of where they run (on standard computers, robot controllers or embedded systems). In the last 10 years, a number of robot operating systems have come out: ROS, Player, YARP, OROCOS, CARMEN, ORCA, MOOS, to name a few. Most have been developed and maintained as open source software by universities and non-profit research centres. The most successful ones have the potential to set the interoperability standards of the future robotic systems.
  • Knowledge modelling. Robot autonomy is based on having appropriate representations of the objects that robots manipulate, the physical environment, the robot missions and the work plans. These involve a great variety of techniques such as signal processing, sensor data fusion, localization and mapping, artificial intelligence, constraint solving, and optimisation. All these techniques have something in common: they manage enormous amounts of data that must be contextualised and processed semantically. Much of this information is captured through complex sensor systems (e.g. image processing or speech recognition) but also from the web. The way how this information can be generated, processed and distributed depends on the availability of appropriate standards. There are already many standards on knowledge modelling, most of them inherited from the ICT field (e.g. SQL, JSON, XML, OWL, and RDF) and a few from other domains (e.g. ISO 10303 for product manufacturing information and ISO 11783 for precision farming), but knowledge modelling for robotics is still a research topic and lacks the stability needed to build a comprehensive set of accepted standards that cover the requirements of all potential applications.
  • Ethics in Autonomous Intelligent Systems. Algorithms, sensors, big data, ubiquitous networking and technologies used in autonomous and intelligent systems are impacting our work and social environment today. The implications and consequences for our personal and social lives can lead to a loss of trust in technology from several issues. For example, there could be a loss of trust due to a perceived loss of agency over our digital identity and data, or due to ethical, transparency or accountability issues related to the operation of such systems. IEEE and others collaborating in OCEANIS have committed to identify and develop standards to address technical, societal and ethical implications of technology expansion.
(A.3) References 

European Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC http://ec.europa.eu/growth/single-market/european-standards/harmonised-standards/machinery/index_en.htm

Directive 2001/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 December 2001 on general product safety https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=celex:32001L0095

(B.) Requested actions

Action 1 Foster coordination of standardisation efforts on robotics and autonomous systems in Europe, promoting interaction of all stakeholders taking into account their vision and real needs (i.e. through SPARC public-private partnership).

Action 2 Study to provide safety standardisation deliverables for autonomous robots driven by artificial intelligence.

Action 3 Standards for risk assessment for robot applications with interchangeable tools and applications should be developed; both for traditional robots and cobots.

(C.) Activities and additional information  

(C.1) Related standardisation activities

The most relevant standards on robotics are led by ISO. Robotic markets are global and it does not make much sense to develop standards at national or regional level. So far, most standardisation efforts have been primarily driven by manufacturers of industrial robots and robotic components. Their engineering teams are well integrated in the various ISO technical committees. European manufacturers are very active in this field. Also, many outstanding European manufacturers of robotic components are involved in standardisation groups in their areas of expertise.

However, new players such as start-ups and SMEs developing highly innovative solutions and products suited to the next generation of robotics have not been involved in standardisation so far. Engaging and supporting them in participating in standardisation efforts and activities will strengthen Europe’s position in the robotics industry.

EU-funded R&D projects also contribute to standardisation activities but to a lesser extent because their activities tend not to last enough to match the usually long timetables of standardisation work. When European projects are involved in standardisation, it tends to be through recipients of funding that are robot or robot-component manufacturers. It is important to strengthen the ties between EU R&I projects and SDOs, bringing project results into standardisation activities.

Standards development

CEN

CEN/TC 310 ‘Advanced automation technologies and their applications’ is responsible for standardisation in the field of automation systems and technologies and their application and integration, to ensure the availability of the standards required by industry for design, sourcing, manufacturing and delivery, support, maintenance and disposal of products and their associated services. Areas of standardisation may include enterprise modelling and system architecture, information and its supporting systems, robotics for fixed and mobile robots in industrial and specific non-industrial environments, automation and control equipment and software, human and mechanical aspects, integration technologies and system operational aspects. These standards may utilise other standards and technologies beyond the scope of CEN/TC 310, such as machines, equipment, information technologies, multi-media capabilities, and multi-modal communications networks.

EN ISO 13482:2014 ‘Robots and robotic devices - Safety requirements for personal care robots

Together with ISO, CEN/TC 310 is revising prEN ISO 10218-1 ‘Robots and robotic devices - Safety requirements for industrial robots - Part 1: Robots’; and prEN ISO 10218-2 ‘Robots and robotic devices - Safety requirements for industrial robots - Part 2: Robot systems and integration’.

CEN/TC 114 ‘Safety of Machinery’ develops standards of general principles for safety of machinery incorporating terminology and methodology. 

CENELEC

CLC/TC 44X ‘Safety of machinery: electrotechnical aspects’ 

CLC/TC 63 ‘Electrical equipment in medical practice’ is responsible for the EN IEC 80601 series, notably EN IEC 80601-2-77 ‘Particular requirements for the basic safety and essential performance of robotically assisted surgical equipment’ and EN IEC 80601-2-78 ‘Particular requirements for basic safety and essential performance of medical robots for rehabilitation, assessment, compensation or alleviation’

ISO

ISO TC on Robotics: ISO/TC 299 — Robotics.

http://www.iso.org/iso/iso_technical_committee?commid=5915511

IEC

The IEC’s Advisory Committee on Applications of Robot Technology (ACART) coordinates common aspects of robotic technology such as vocabulary and symbols. The Committee also cooperates with the IEC CAB (Conformity Assessment Board) for conformity assessment activities. 

ISO/IEC JTC 1

The work ongoing in ISO/IEC JTC 1 SC 42 on Artificial Intelligence also has an impact on Robotics. (See chapter 3.4.6 on Artificial Intelligence).

IEEE

IEEE has standardisation and pre-standardisation activities in the field of robotics and automation,

  • for functions like navigation as well as ethical considerations for autonomous robots, and
  • for a diversity of applications in medicine, manufacturing, etc..

The Standing Committee for Standards Activities of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society has been actively working with the research and industrial communities and other Standards Developing Organizations (SDOs) to identify areas for standardisation in robotics and automation.

  • The ‘Robot Task Representation’ Working Group standardises ontologies for robotics and automation, e.g. IEEE 1872-2015. Ontologies include key terms as well as their definitions, attributes, types, structures, properties, constraints, and relationships. They allow reasoning and communication about tasks (P1872.1). There is ongoing work to extend IEEE 1872-2015 for Autonomous Robots (AuRs) by defining additional ontologies (P1872.2).
  • The ‘Robot Map Data Representation’ Working Group has developed a standardised map data representation of environments for a mobile robot performing a navigation task (IEEE 1873-2015). It provides data models and data formats for two-dimensional (2D) metric and topological maps. The ‘Robot 3D Map Data Representation’ Working Group extends IEEE 1872-2015 to 3D (P2751).
  • The ‘Ontologies for Ethically Driven Robotics and Automation’ Working Group develops a standard to establish a set of ontologies with different abstraction levels that contain definitions, axioms and concepts needed to establish methodologies for ethically driven Robots and Automation Systems (P7007).
  • The Working Group ‘Ethical Nudging for Robotic, Intelligent and Autonomous Systems’ develops a standard for Ethically Driven Nudging for Robotic, Intelligent and Autonomous Systems (P7008). ‘Nudges’ are defined as overt or hidden suggestions or manipulations designed to influence the behavior or emotions. This standard establishes a delineation of typical nudges (currently in use or that could be created).
  • IEEE through its Engineering Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS) Standards Committee also has focused standardisation activities on medical robots. The ‘Medical Robots’ Working Group specifies terms, definitions, and classification of medical electrical equipment/systems employing robotic technology (MEERT) (P2730).

For more information please visit https://ieeesa.io/rp-robotics.

ITU

ITU-T is active on a number of work items on Artificial Intelligence which have relevance to Robotics, as well. See the mentioning in chapter 3.1.11, section C1.

ITU-T SG16 has established the Focus Group on “AI for autonomous and assisted driving” (FG-AI4AD) to focus on AI performance evaluation in autonomous and assisted driving. The group aims to create an open framework for collaboration and sharing of expertise towards international harmonisation of a universal minimal performance threshold for AI-enabled driving functions (such as AI as a Driver), which is essential to building the global public trust required for widespread deployment of AI on our roads. FG-AI4AD is working on three Technical Reports related to “automated driving safety data protocol”: 1) specification; 2) public safety benefits of continual monitoring; and 3) practical demonstrators”. https://itu.int/en/ITU-T/focusgroups/ai4ad

ITU-T SG20 developed Recommendation ITU-T Y.4417 “Framework of self-organization network in the IoT environments” and is currently working on draft Recommendation on “Requirements and capability framework of IoT infrastructure to support network-assisted autonomous vehicles” (Y.IoT-AV-Reqts) and draft Recommendation ITU-T Y.4471 “Functional architecture of network-based driving assistance for autonomous vehicles” (ex Y.NDS-arch). https://www.itu.int/itu-t/recommendations/index.aspx?ser=Y

SG13 has ongoing work on “AI-based network automation for resource adaptation and failure recovery in future networks” (Y.ML-IMT2020-NA-RAFR) and “Robotics as a Service in cloud computing environment” (Y.RaaS-reqts). https://www.itu.int/itu-t/workprog/wp_item.aspx?isn=16731

Other activities related to standardisation

OCEANIS

The Open Community for Ethics in Autonomous and Intelligent Systems (OCEANIS) is a global forum for discussion, debate and collaboration for organizations interested in the development and use of standards to further the development of autonomous and intelligent systems. https://ethicsstandards.org

SPARC

PPP for the collaboration between European robotic industry, academia and the European Commission to facilitate the growth and empowerment of the robotics industry and value chain. It includes a working group on standardisation. http://www.sparc.eu/

H2020

R&D&I projects funded within topics ICT 24, ICT 25, ICT 26 and ICT 27 from Work Programme 2016-17 that may produce relevant input for standardisation.

(C.2) additional information

Robotics PPP — EU Robotics: Strategic Research Agenda http://roboproject.h2214467.stratoserver.net/cms/upload/PPP/SRA2020_SPARC.pdf

Robotics PPP — EU Robotics: Multiannual Roadmap (rolling document) https://eu-robotics.net/sparc/about/roadmap/index.html

International Federation of Robotics: Standardisation http://www.ifr.org/standardisation/

US Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Robotics https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/robotics/index.html