Research Topic

Assuring Safety for Assistive Robots in Health and Social Care

About this Research Topic

In Human-Robot Interaction, safe and reliable operation is crucially dependent on integration of physical and cognitive aspects of the user(s) involved in the interaction, as well as on the sensing hardware, software, and artificial intelligence platform. Ensuring operational safety of assistive robots, in a range of real-world contexts, represents one of the major challenges to the commercial deployment of these robots in care facilities and individual homes.

In order to ensure real-world deployment and commercialisation, application-focused research is required that addresses safe and transparent human-robot interaction, hazard analysis and risk assessment, real-time sensing and control to recognise and adapt to issues that could impact safety in a range of dynamic environments and scenarios of use.

While there are technical, regulatory and care standards, such as the BS EN ISO 13482: 2014 Robots and robotic devices - safety requirements for personal care robots and the BS EN 12182-2012 standard - assistive products for persons with disability, which focuses on the strength and durability of the hardware, further research is required to inform their development. This includes deeper and broader considerations relating to safety-related control systems governance, physical motion, operational space, environmental sensing, stability, force control, untoward events and the design of the user interface. There are also key gaps from end-user and environmental perspectives and research that reflects a range of use cases will help to enhance these standards and their applicability.

The research is particularly significant given the vulnerability of the end-users interacting with these systems - giving rise to a range of very complex safety-related issues and ethical concerns. It is necessary to consider the safety and use of assistive robots at not just an operational and functional level - but also from human factors and clinical efficacy perspectives.

There needs to be more research into how changes in the environment, as well as changing needs of a user with a progressive condition, where their physical and cognitive ability changes, will affect system safety and behaviour. It is also important to consider the validity and pragmatics of test methods involving users, as well as the scope of hazard analyses approaches for addressing a range of assistive tasks in real-world environments and situations, addressing human factors issues such as cognitive load and distraction.

This Research Topic on assuring safety for assistive robots welcomes contributions that report innovative research related to the following topics:

• Risk assessment and hazard analysis studies when bringing assistive robotics to real-world environments (homes, care facilities and hospitals)
• Stakeholders (end-users, carers, relatives, therapists, clinicians) requirements in safe human-robot interaction
• Hazard analysis approaches, which consider designing systems with the capability to deal with uncertainty
• Verification and validation of human-robot interaction systems for assistive robots, including regulation compliance for safety
• Robot capabilities for self-assessment of operational safety and risk management, including context awareness
• Estimation of probabilities and models of unintended behaviours by both robots and humans
• Approaches for modelling and assessing the safety of assistive robots
• User trust and safe human-robot interaction considering accessibility for people with disabilities


Prof Jee-Hwan Ryu is CTO of BioRob Inc., Republic of Korea. All other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regards to the Research Topic subject.


Keywords: Assistive Robotics, Safety, Human-Robot Interaction, Technology Enabled Health and Social Care


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

In Human-Robot Interaction, safe and reliable operation is crucially dependent on integration of physical and cognitive aspects of the user(s) involved in the interaction, as well as on the sensing hardware, software, and artificial intelligence platform. Ensuring operational safety of assistive robots, in a range of real-world contexts, represents one of the major challenges to the commercial deployment of these robots in care facilities and individual homes.

In order to ensure real-world deployment and commercialisation, application-focused research is required that addresses safe and transparent human-robot interaction, hazard analysis and risk assessment, real-time sensing and control to recognise and adapt to issues that could impact safety in a range of dynamic environments and scenarios of use.

While there are technical, regulatory and care standards, such as the BS EN ISO 13482: 2014 Robots and robotic devices - safety requirements for personal care robots and the BS EN 12182-2012 standard - assistive products for persons with disability, which focuses on the strength and durability of the hardware, further research is required to inform their development. This includes deeper and broader considerations relating to safety-related control systems governance, physical motion, operational space, environmental sensing, stability, force control, untoward events and the design of the user interface. There are also key gaps from end-user and environmental perspectives and research that reflects a range of use cases will help to enhance these standards and their applicability.

The research is particularly significant given the vulnerability of the end-users interacting with these systems - giving rise to a range of very complex safety-related issues and ethical concerns. It is necessary to consider the safety and use of assistive robots at not just an operational and functional level - but also from human factors and clinical efficacy perspectives.

There needs to be more research into how changes in the environment, as well as changing needs of a user with a progressive condition, where their physical and cognitive ability changes, will affect system safety and behaviour. It is also important to consider the validity and pragmatics of test methods involving users, as well as the scope of hazard analyses approaches for addressing a range of assistive tasks in real-world environments and situations, addressing human factors issues such as cognitive load and distraction.

This Research Topic on assuring safety for assistive robots welcomes contributions that report innovative research related to the following topics:

• Risk assessment and hazard analysis studies when bringing assistive robotics to real-world environments (homes, care facilities and hospitals)
• Stakeholders (end-users, carers, relatives, therapists, clinicians) requirements in safe human-robot interaction
• Hazard analysis approaches, which consider designing systems with the capability to deal with uncertainty
• Verification and validation of human-robot interaction systems for assistive robots, including regulation compliance for safety
• Robot capabilities for self-assessment of operational safety and risk management, including context awareness
• Estimation of probabilities and models of unintended behaviours by both robots and humans
• Approaches for modelling and assessing the safety of assistive robots
• User trust and safe human-robot interaction considering accessibility for people with disabilities


Prof Jee-Hwan Ryu is CTO of BioRob Inc., Republic of Korea. All other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regards to the Research Topic subject.


Keywords: Assistive Robotics, Safety, Human-Robot Interaction, Technology Enabled Health and Social Care


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

03 July 2020 Abstract
04 September 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

03 July 2020 Abstract
04 September 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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