Towards safety in physically assistive robots: eating assistance

Conference Article


IROS Workshop on Robots for Assisted Living (IROS WS RobForAL)





Doc link


Download the digital copy of the doc pdf document


Safety is one of the base elements to build trust in robots. This paper studies remedies to unavoidable collisions using robotics assistive feeding as an example task. Firstly, we propose an attention mechanism so the user can control the robot using gestures and thus prevent collisions. Secondly, when unwanted contacts are unavoidable we compare two safety strategies: active safety, using a force sensor to monitor maximum allowed forces; and passive safety using compliant controllers. Experimental evaluation shows that the gesture mechanism is effective to control the robot. Also, the impact forces obtained with both methods are similar and thus can be used independently. Additionally, users experimenting on purpose impacts declared that the impact was not harmful.


humanoid robots, service robots.

Author keywords

assisted living, feeding, safety

Scientific reference

M. Vila, G. Canal and G. Alenyà. Towards safety in physically assistive robots: eating assistance, 2018 IROS Workshop on Robots for Assisted Living, 2018, Madrid, pp. 1-4.