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‘Autonomous machinery necessitates more effective safety measures’

by Pieter Werner

At Tampere University, research is focused on enhancing safety systems for highly automated off-road mobile machinery, addressing critical compliance gaps with legislation concerning public safety. Led by Marea de Koning, a doctoral researcher specializing in automation, the project aims to establish a tailored safety framework to accommodate the unique demands of AI-controlled mobile working machines.

The increase in use of autonomous machinery necessitates the development of more effective safety measures, as conventional safety protocols often fail to address the risks posed by AI systems adequately. De Koning’s work proposes a framework that allows original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), safety engineers, and industry stakeholders to develop compliant safety systems that keep pace with legislative changes.

This research highlights the challenges of predicting every potential hazard in AI-operated machinery and ensuring autonomous management of dangerous situations. De Koning emphasizes the importance of creating adaptive risk management systems that can handle unforeseen events. Part of this approach includes integrating human oversight, though reliance on human intervention is limited by factors such as human error and decreased performance due to automation.

The framework is designed to support OEMs in developing safety systems that are compliant with current and future regulations. De Koning’s research, which began in November 2020 and is set to conclude in November 2024, is supported by the Doctoral School of Industry Innovations and a Finnish system supplier. Her upcoming project will focus on testing the practical implementation of the safety framework under the new Regulation 2023/1230, which will soon replace Directive 2006/42/ec.

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