Discussing collaborative Human-Robot applications @the 8th CIRP CATS

SHERLOCK had the great opportunity to give three keynote speeches during the 8th CIRP Conference on Assembly Technology and Systems on “Digitalizing Smart Factories”, which took place from the 29 of September to the 1 of October 2020.

The aim was to bring scientific and industrial stakeholders together, to discuss and share opinions on the challenges faced by the manufacturers in today’s automated environment.

On the 1st day, SHERLOCK partners held a keynote speech on “Seamless human-robot interaction”; directly jumping into the topic of novel industrial collaborative robots. Although the term Human-Robot Collaboration is becoming a popular term, it remains to be very complex. Markets are evolving quickly in the last decade without the required flexibility level without reaching sufficient productivity and quality levels. In this context, new scenarios emerge and evolve where physical barriers no longer separate industrial robots from the human operator. Hence, collaborative robots establish efficient interactions with the operator using smart devices and ensure the safety and security of the worker by monitoring the workspaces.


On the 2nd day, SHERLOCK partners gave a keynote speech on “Advanced soft robotics technologies and smart mechatronics” highlighting how the digital transformation of products and production related to the Industry 4.0 revolution pushes manufacturers to rethink their assembly systems and processes. In this context, the integration of collaborative robots in existing environments facilitate and help human operators in their daily assembly tasks. The overarching goal is to boost the overall production and quality levels. At the same time, the operators improve their ergonomic postures by reducing loads, thus decreasing fatigue as well as stress level and improving job satisfaction. The final result is a system in which all processes are integrated, and information is exchanged in real-time.


Finally, on the 3rd day of the conference, SHERLOCK partners presented a last keynote speech on “Safety and security in collaborative workspaces” raising a crucial aspect: the central place occupied by the human operator. Indeed, the security and safety of human operators is a key component of SHERLOCK’s values. The relevance of safety was also discussed considering the increase of complexity of Human-Robot Collaborative applications, as well as the European directive and standards required in today’s manufacturers. SHERLOCK is developing three main modules to achieve safety compliant designs while keeping high levels of productivity:

  • Human-Robot Collaboration Validation Module: embedded by virtual reality to facilitate the design and testing of new HRC stations by simulating the behaviour of the operator and the robot to evaluate and validate the scenario efficiency.
  • Automated Risk Assessment Module: using augmented reality-based tools to assist in Human-Robot Collaboration applications design.
  • Online Safety Assessment Module: aiming to continuously assess safety parameters to avoid potential safety violation in advance.


More than 100 participants have attended each 30 minutes keynote leading to fruitful and insightful discussions about seamless and successful Human-Robot Collaboration. Once again, it has demonstrated the importance to exchange experiences on the challenges brought by the automation transformation emphasising its necessity and opportunity.

We hope to e-meet and collaborate with all of you during similar webinars again!


Keynote 1: “Seamless human-robot interaction” – Sotiris Makris, Lab. for Manufacturing Systems and Automation (LMS), University of Patras
Keynote 2: “Advanced soft robotics technologies and smart mechatronics” – Alfio Minissale, COMAU S.p.A
Keynote 3: “Safety and security in collaborative workspaces” – Toni Guasch, Pilz Industrieelektronik S.L.