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Unlocking the Potential of Service Robots

Japan’s aging society and declining population is driving a labor shortage, particularly in the service industry. The solution to this challenge may come in the form of commercialized service robots, which can act as guides and helpers in places like airports, nursing care facilities and other public spaces. Several industries are developing robotic service solutions, but to successfully integrate service robots into public spaces, these businesses must take care to ensure all new technology is introduced safely.

New standards to enhance safety

In 2014, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) issued safety standards for service robot interior and exterior construction, based on a Japanese proposal. ISO standards are now commonly used by manufacturers, but no safety standards exist for operators, or so-called “robot service providers.” Even if standards ensure safety of service robots constructs, unsafe robotic operations may endanger individuals receiving robotic services. To address this gap, robotic service operations need their own set of standards.

Japan pioneers standards for service robots

Japan has established new Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) for robot services as the first service standards under the Revised JIS Act, or the Revised Industrial Standardization Act, updated to cover service areas in luly 2019. In order to ensure the safety of the robot itself, as indicated by the ISO standards, the JIS aims to uncover safety-related challenges unique to individual services through risk assessment approaches, and reduce operational risks through proper management. Moreover, the JIS, as well as ISO 9001 (quality management systems) and ISO 45001 (occupational health and safety management systems), require continuous commitment from top management to improving safety, including system management and construction, as well as education.

From Japan to the rest of the world

Japan expects these standards will help encourage safer, more abundant robot services. In addition, Japan will strive to promote the safety and convenience of service robots around the world by developing proposals for new international standardization.

Last updated:2019-07-26