Osaka, Japan - Panasonic Corporation, together with Toyota Motor Corporation, has developed a technology for evaluating finger safety to enable people and machines to coexist and collaborate safely with peace of mind. The two companies have commercialized, and will be launching on October 15, 2021 through Tanac Co., Ltd. a "Laceration Evaluation Finger Dummy" as an evaluation tool for preventing relatively minor finger injuries - a tool that is expected to be in high demand especially in the industrial world.
The use of robots is expanding in the industrial world due to labor shortages brought on by the declining birthrate and aging population. In particular, the utilization of collaborative robots that are expected to improve productivity and share work spaces with people is expected to increase globally. Meanwhile, ensuring peace of mind and safety on the manufacturing floor where collaborative robots operate has become the most important issue, and there have been calls for ways to prevent the relatively minor injuries to fingers that people are particularly prone to suffer.
Panasonic and Toyota started the joint development of this finger safety evaluation technology in 2018 with the aim of contributing to security and safety on the manufacturing floor. Panasonic has a technology for evaluating bodily safety that it has developed based on verification experiments performed on pig skin which is said to be similar to human skin. Since 2005, the company has been utilizing a proprietary tool for evaluating the safety of its own products, such as its "Hasamanize Mechanism" for preventing fingers from getting trapped in folding doors and autonomous transport robots. Based on Panasonic's technology, and building on Toyota's knowledge and experience of manufacturing operations, the companies have developed a finger dummy as a tool for predicting potential finger laceration injuries when working with collaborative robots, and for easily verifying, improving and validating safety conditions on the manufacturing floor.
The finger dummy consists of a core rod portion that corresponds to the human bone and a soft material that corresponds to the skin (finger dummy portion) covering the core rod. The soft material which simulates the skin is a proprietary material with a resistance against lacerations (loads that produce lacerations) that is approximately the same as that of real human skin. By inserting the part covered with the soft material between machine surfaces, etc., a potential injury can be represented visually based on the degree of damage to the soft material, and this enables users to predict and evaluate the risk of minor finger injuries. In addition, the product can be used repeatedly by replacing the soft material.