When assembling, programming, and competing with robots there are certain precautions which need to be observed. There are safety guidelines which will help you safely work with your robot.
This article will cover the following precautions:
- Pinch Points
- Sharp Edges
- Flying Debris
- Falling Objects
- Extreme Temperature
Each of these precautions will have safety guidelines for:
- Personal safety guidelines
- Safety guidelines for working with your robot
- Safety guidelines for working with tools
Pinch points occur whenever a moving object comes in contact with another object. This could be a wheel which is close to a chassis, an arm with a tower, two gears intermeshing, two surfaces of a tool, or any number of things involved with robotics.
Personal safety guidelines regarding pinch points:
- Turn off your robot and release any air pressure before handling it.
- Disable your robot after an autonomous routine.
- Tie back long hair.
- Remove dangling jewelry, scarves, neckties, or other clothing and/or accessories which may fall into a pinch point.
- Keep fingers away from any moving parts on your robot.
- Seek immediate medical attention for any pinched areas.
Pinch point safety guidelines for working with your robot:
- Secure arms and other manipulatives when working around them by placing a shaft/screw, jam gear, or trig near the pivot point to stop them from moving (be sure to remove them before you operate your robot.)
- Shaft/screw: Often there is a hole aligned on the robot’s tower which will allow a shaft or screw to be inserted through the hole and into a hole on the arm or the arm’s gear which will lock the arm in place.
- Jam gear: Sometimes it is possible to place a small gear between two gears where they intermesh, such as with a double reverse four bar lift system. The small gear prevents either of the lift’s gears from rotating because the jam gear is jammed between the two lift gears.
Note: This method depends on the downward weight of the lift to keep the jam gear in place.
- Trig: Often it is possible to connect a piece of structural metal between your robot's arm and its tower forming a rigid triangle locking the arm in place.
- Slowly move all pivot points, wheels, sprockets, and gears to ensure there are no cables, tubing, elastic materials, or hardware which will be caught by the motion, before powering up your robot.
Pinch point safety guidelines for working with tools:
- Keep the pinch points of tools away from your skin and the skin of others.
- Use care when tightening or loosening connectors. It is possible to pinch skin between a tool and a hard surface.
- Whenever possible use a tool to place a connector in a tight location rather than placing your fingers into the area.
Sharp edges occur whenever a material is cut. These materials could be metal or plastic. The tools used to cut materials have sharp edges. If a part breaks or cracks it usually will have a sharp edge.
Personal safety guidelines regarding sharp edges:
- File or sand all edges of a material which has been cut to remove sharp edges.
- Be cautious for any sharp surfaces on the playing field and game elements. Be sure to report these immediately.
- Seek immediate medical attention for any cut or scratch.
Sharp edges safety guidelines for working with your robot:
- Check pieces of metal, plastic, and connectors for points, burs, or cracks which may have occurred when manufacturing or shipping.
- Inspect your robot frequently to make sure there are no broken or sharp parts.
Sharp edges safety guidelines for working with tools:
- Keep skin away from the cutting edges of tools.
- Secure the material being cut in a vise or clamp whenever possible.
- Use cutting motions which are away from your skin and the skin of others.
- Be sure there are no electrical cables or pneumatic tubing near the surfaces which are being cut.
- Be sure the material being cut is not under stress, such as a metal structure holding a load.
Flying debris can occur when a robot is in motion, material is being cut, elastic materials are released, or pressure is released.
Personal safety guidelines regarding flying debris. Always wear eye protection such as safety glasses when:
- Competing in a robotics competition.
- In the pit area when power tools are being used nearby.
- Seek immediate medical attention if flying debris enters your eyes or skin.
Flying debris safety guidelines for working with your robot. Always wear eye protection such as safety glasses when:
- Your robot’s pneumatic system is pressurized.
- Elastic materials (rubber bands, rubber tubing) are energized.
- Devices on your robot cans spin at very high RPM’s.
Note: Cover electronics whenever tools are being used nearby which produce metal filings.
Flying debris safety guidelines for working with tools. Always wear eye protection such as safety glasses or a face shield when:
- Using power tools.
- Forcefully hammering on an object.
- Soldering wires or electronics (please refer to game rules regarding modifying electronics or making repairs).
Note: There should be a separate area for the use of power tools away from the general area where robots are being assembled, programmed, and operated.
Falling objects occur when an object’s support is removed. This could be things like a robot driving off a table, or a tool being dropped.
Personal safety guidelines regarding falling objects:
- Wear closed-toe shoes when working around or operating robots.
- Walk. Do not run.
- Seek immediate medical attention for injuries caused by falls or falling objects.
Falling objects safety guidelines for working with your robot:
- Keep the magnetic screen protector on your V5 Robot Brain to protect the touch-screen from falling objects.
- Position your robot in the lowest possible state when working on it. If the robot needs to be an extended position to work on it, lay it down in a position which is least hazardous.
- Operate your robot on the floor or playing field not on a table or counter.
Falling objects safety guidelines for working with tools:
- Keep your work area neat and organized.
- Return tools and extra parts to their storage area as soon as they are no longer needed.
Extreme temperature on the high end can occur from heat guns, soldering, flames, friction, mechanical stress, or electrical shorts and on the low end from a rapid release of pressure.
Personal safety guidelines regarding extreme temperature:
- Point canned air dusters and other aerosols away from your skin and the skin of others.
- Keep metal which has been recently cut or stressed quickly and repeatedly (such as bending a piece of metal back and forth) away from your skin and the skin of others.
- Seek immediate medical attention for any burned or frosted skin.
Extreme temperature safety guidelines for working with your robot:
- Inspect your robot for any cracked or frayed cables before powering up and replace immediately if they are found.
- Place electrical tape over the terminals of batteries when they are in storage.
- Use the appropriate battery chargers.
- Inspect all batteries for defects and damage before using, if any are found, store in a safe location and recycle as soon as possible.
Extreme temperature safety guidelines for working with tools:
- Be cautious around material which has just been cut.
- Be sure multimeters, battery testers, and battery breaks are set up appropriately before using.
- Keep probes from touching each other when testing for voltage.
- Use extreme caution when using open flames, soldering irons, and heat guns (please see competition game rules regarding heating plastics and modifying electronics).
Pressure can occur by heating a sealed container, or by pumping up a pneumatic system.
Personal safety guidelines regarding pressure:
- Point the exhaust end of the pneumatic finger valve away from your skin/eyes and the skin/eyes of others when releasing the pressure from pneumatics.
- Place manual bike tire pumps firmly on the ground and secure by your feet when pumping up a pneumatic system, do not use these pumps on a table or counter.
- Seek immediate medical attention for injuries caused by a sudden release of pressure.
Pressure safety guidelines for working with your robot:
- Test your pneumatic system with a low pressure prior to fully pressurizing it. (please see competition game rules regarding the use of pneumatics)
- Check all pneumatic fittings and solenoids for air leaks.
- Release the pressure from the robot’s pneumatic system before attempting to unhitch tubing or do any other work.
Pressure safety guidelines for working with tools:
- Set the maximum pressure on an electric air compressor to the limit set for pneumatics in the competition game rules.
- Use manual air pumps which have a built-in pressure gauge.
- Store and operate aerosol cans at room temperature, do not expose pressurized cans to any form of heat.
This list of precautions and associated guidelines are not all inclusive of the safety issues associated with working on and competing with robots. They are intended to point out some of the more common safety concerns. Common sense and proper training are your best safeguards. Overall, have fun with your robot and be safe!