Subscribe Contribute Provide Feedback
December 2017 | Volume 7, Issue 4 | Robotics |

The flourishing landscape of robot standardization

International standardization in robotics paves the way to the market for new robotic products, assists to overcome technical barriers in international commerce, and fosters market growth.

Read Cover Story

Letter from the Editor

by Yatin Trivedi, David Law

Robots Are Coming!
Robots are coming, robots are coming! Of course, that’s no news. Robots in one form or another are everywhere around us. Their presence is growing rapidly in our everyday life and they are making our lives more productive. They have come a long way from automated assembly lines in the factories and cleaning homes to performing complicated lifesaving surgeries in hospitals and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in warfare. Continued evolution of the robots, and their applications in new domains, is in part due to the integration of sensors that enable the robots to understand physical quantities such as temperature, pressure, humidity and altitude, as well as the ability to process sight and sound (vision/image/video and audio processing). Furthermore, integration of networking and communication technologies, combined with advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms continue to put robotics on an accelerated path of innovations that will impact our daily lives tremendously.
So, as intelligent and networked robots become ubiquitous around us, it is imperative that there are standards set for design, deployment, maintenance, safety as well as interoperability among robots in a larger ecosystem built around such robots. A team of standards professionals have collected a detailed status of ISO standards projects in the article “The flourishing landscape of robot standardization”. In the six working groups, these standards cover the topics of safety-related standards across different use domains:
  • Vocabulary and characteristics
  • Personal care robot safety
  • Industrial safety
  • Service robots
  • Medical robot safety
  • Modularity for service robots
Taking the topic one step further, Prof. Christian Wietfeld explains the need for standards in rescue robots at different layers of the entire rescue system. His article “Networked Rescue Robotics: Standards pave the way from successful prototypes to sustainable deployments” walks you through these layers and explains the need for standardizing various data formats. Imagine the kind of chaos that may exist if the rescue robots from different manufacturers, or even same manufacturer but different generation/version, could not communicate effectively with each other. This reminds me of the “1904 Baltimore Fire” chaos when firehoses were found to be incompatible with Baltimore’s fire hydrants, rendering several hundred fire trucks from other cities useless while the city burned. One would hope that the rescue robots will provide a solution to ease the chaotic situation caused by whatever the nature of emergency (fire, earthquake, flood, etc.). That’s why we need standards!
Dr. Koji Kamei takes us deeper on the tour of standards as used in the cloud for robotics. His article “Standardization Activities for Robotic Services” is a perfect complement to the Rescue Robotics.
Still interested in more information about Robotics and Standards? Checkout the comprehensive collection of information put together by IEEE’s own Robert Craig as the newest member of the Standards Education team. Welcome aboard, Robert!
As academia and industry continue to advance the field of robotics and attempt to solve complex problems, the solutions will have to share knowledge. This will inherently imply the need to share data formats, access mechanisms, networking and communication. Oh yes, and don’t forget the need to carefully deploy ethical practices in these intelligent systems. Refer to IEEE’s 7000 series of standards. This is the emerging field in standardization so important to students, researchers, industry practitioners, and policy makers (among others).

Funny Pages: Robot Laws

Illustrated by David Law

Call For Contributors

The IEEE Standards Education eZine Editorial Board invites contributions from industry practitioners, educators and students on topics related to education about technical standards. Interested parties may submit an inquiry or article abstract for consideration to the Editorial Board at any time throughout the year via email to: Abstracts should be no longer than 500 words and final articles should be no more than 2,000 words. Particular areas of interest include, but are not limited to:
  • impact and development of standards in various regions of the world;
  • reliance by employers on complying with standards for introducing their products to the marketplace
  • best practices and ideas for incorporating standards into the classroom and curricula
Final contributions should include a 100-word biography of the author(s) and a high-resolution (JPEG) picture. All illustrations must be provided in a high-resolution (JPEG) format. References to all copyrighted material must be properly cited.

Interested in contributing an article? Please make note of these important dates.

1st Quarter 2018 issue theme: 5G
  • Articles due: Monday, 5 February 2018
  • Publication date: Monday, 15 March 2018

About the IEEE Standards Education e- Magazine

A publication for those who learn, teach, use, deploy, develop and enjoy Standards!

Technical standards are formal documents that establish uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes and practices developed through an accredited consensus process. The purpose of this publication is to help raise awareness of standards, show the importance of standards, present real-world applications of standards, and demonstrate the role you can play in the standards development process. Knowledge of standards and standards activities can help facilitate your professional engineering practice and improve technological developments to meet the needs and improve the lives of future generations.

Standards are:

  • developed based on guiding principles of openness, balance, consensus, and due process;
  • established in order to meet technical, safety, regulatory, societal and market needs;
  • catalysts for technological innovation and global market competition.
  • Knowledge of standards can help facilitate the transition from classroom to professional practice by aligning educational concepts with real-world applications.


IEEE is committed to:

  • promoting the importance of standards in meeting technical, economic,environmental, and societal challenges;
  • disseminating learning materials on the application of standards in the design and development aspects of educational programs;
  • actively promoting the integration of standards into academic programs;
  • providing educational materials about standards needed in the design and development phases of professional practice.

Serving the community of students, educators, practitioners, developers and standards users, we are building a community of standards education for the benefit of humanity.

Join us as we explore the dynamic world of standards!