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  5. ISO Deliberations on Japan-Proposed Development of New International Standard for Safety Operation of Robot Services to Start

ISO Deliberations on Japan-Proposed Development of New International Standard for Safety Operation of Robot Services to Start

- Effort for fortifying industrial competitiveness of service robots -

September 2, 2020

Japanese industries are facing a variety of challenges, such as labor shortages brought about by the rapidly aging society and low birthrate, as well as the need to ensure social distancing among customers in order to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus disease. To overcome these challenges, some industries have started utilization of commercialized robot services in which robots provide services (e.g., guide, serve beverages and foods, clean, and guard) to people in public spaces (e.g., stations and commercial facilities). Additionally, in providing such services, these industries should secure the safety of people and robots to coexist.
 
Against this backdrop, Japan submitted to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) a proposal for development of a new international standard for safe operation of robots by robot service providers. In response, the ISO decided to establish a new working group (WG) placing Japan as the convener and began deliberations on the standardization.
 
Establishment of this proposal as a new international standard is expected to help dissemination of safe and secure robot services not only in Japan but also in overseas countries and to contribute to further enhancing the industrial competitiveness of Japan through creating and expanding markets.

1. Background to submission of a proposal for development of a new international standard

Current labor shortages brought about by the rapidly aging society with low birthrate have been causing significant challenges for most industries in Japan. Additionally, the service industry is now facing another challenge of ensuring social distancing among customers in order to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus disease. As one of the solutions to overcoming these challenges, industries are placing expectations on introduction of robots called “service robots”. Some industries have started utilization of service robots, e.g., guide robots, delivery robots, nursing-care robots, and assisting robots, which are expected to play significant roles in public spaces where people and such robots are able to coexist, e.g., airports, commercial facilities and nursing-care facilities. In providing such services, these industries should secure the safety of robots to prevent robots from bringing any harm to people.

2. Key points of the proposal

As the first step to securing the safety of robots, the ISO issued ISO 13482 for safety of service robots in 2014, which is an international safety standard based on Japan’s proposal which manufacturers of service robots are required to observe. Since then, the ISO member countries have been advancing efforts for disseminating the standard. In line with this, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) developed systematic requirements on safe management and operation of robots which robot service providers should observe in providing services using such robots, standardized the requirements and established “JIS Y1001: Requirements for safe management systems for robot services taking advantage of service robots.” This JIS is the first domestic standard in the field of services under the Industrial Standardization Act, or the New JIS Act, which was put into force in 2019.* However, there was no international standard for robot services which is applicable in the rest of the world. To address this situation, Japan prepared a proposal for development of a new international standard for robot safety based on JIS Y1001 and submitted it to the ISO. In response, the ISO decided to establish WG7, a new working group under the technical committee ISO/TC299 (robotics) for robot safety and to start deliberations on the standardization placing Japan as the convener.

The proposed international standard stipulates rules for risk assessment, safety management, education, operation systems, management systems and other actions which robot service providers should conduct in providing robot services for people in public spaces and other areas where such providers are assumed to secure the safety of service robots and take into consideration potential impacts of such robots on third parties around the robots.

3. Expected effects

Establishment of this proposal as a new international standard is expected to help dissemination of safe and secure robot services not only in Japan but also in overseas countries and to contribute to further enhancing the industrial competitiveness of Japan through creating and expanding markets.

References

*News release on May 20, 2019

- Joint press release with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology on September 2, 2020

Division in Charge

International Standardization Division, Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau