New industrial mobile robot safety standard, R15.08

Mobile robots are going to be everywhere soon. Here's how to keep workers safe around them: R15.08, American National Standard for Industrial Mobile Robots -- Safety Requirements -- Part 1: Requirements for the Industrial Mobile Robot.

By Jackie Rose October 5, 2020


Learning Objectives

  • Official Standard Title is R15.08, American National Standard for Industrial Mobile Robots — Safety Requirements — Part 1: Requirements for the Industrial Mobile Robot.
  • Official Reference Number is ANSI/RIA R15.08-1-2020.
  • Shorthand Name(s) are R15.08-1; IMR Safety.

In a critical first step toward common guidelines in the growing sector of mobile robotics, the new American National Standard (ANS) for safety requirements for industrial mobile robots, R15.08 Part 1, is expected to be published in November by the Robotic Industries Association (RIA), after more than four years of work and input from hundreds of industry experts.

“R15.08 Part 1 will be a solid foundation for future work in this area,” said Carole Franklin, RIA director of standards development. “We focused on the industrial environment, mainly spaces where the general public do not have unrestricted access. Additional considerations will be needed for safety of the public in non-industrial environments, such as retail, and this is one example of a subject that could be covered in future work.”

What is R15.08 and how can it help mobile industrial robots?

R15.08-1 is a document providing technical requirements for the design and integration of industrial mobile robots. R15.08-1 is important because the rapidly developing capabilities of mobile robots will make industrial mobile robots (IMRs) and industrial mobile robot fleets (IMRFs) an increasingly common type of robot application in the future. For this advancement in productivity to succeed, the safety of human workers around mobile robot applications must be ensured.

Why is R15.08 needed for mobile industrial robots?

A paradigm shift has occurred in recent years with the continued advancement of mobile robots in the workplace. In the past, the American National Standard for industrial robot and robot system safety (R15.06-2012) permitted the safe use of mobile robots but did not provide detail on how to do this. R15.06 focuses on manipulator-type industrial robots (“arms”).

Other related existing standards included AGV safety standards, such as B56.5 for Driverless, Automatic Guided Industrial Trucks (automatic guided vehicles or “AGVs”) and ISO 3691-4 Industrial trucks – Safety requirements and verification – Part 4: Driverless industrial trucks and their systems. These documents have historically been written with the assumption the AGV relied on some form of predetermined guidepath rather than autonomous navigation.

“AMRs and mobile manipulators need safety requirements beyond what existed in R15.06, which generally assumed industrial robots were stationary, or B56.5, which historically assumed that mobile machines needed predetermined guidepaths,” Franklin said.

R15.08 includes use of an industrial robot arm on a mobile robot

Until now, mobile robot manufacturers had only general safety requirements for industrial machinery. R15.08 Part 1 provides a common set of requirements for industrial mobile robots and yet is flexible enough to permit companies to develop their own solutions. A particular missing piece from R15.06 and B56.5 was how to combine an industrial manipulator with a mobile platform, especially when each had its own safety controller.

For example, for a “mobile manipulator” type of robot, the question could be asked of what to do in the case when a manipulator is mounted to an AGV as a mobile platform? In that case, which safety standard takes precedence, R15.06 for the manipulator (“industrial robot” per R15.06) or B56.5 (for the AGV as the mobile platform)? R15.08 Part 1 provides such detailed requirements.

R15.08 Part 2 mobile robot systems, system integration, fleets; R15.08 Part 3 mobile industrial robot users

The R15.08 Committee will develop R15.08 Part 2, with safety requirements for industrial mobile robot systems and system integration. R15.08 Part 2 will cover any adaptions necessary for the application and the specific facility in which the IMR(s) will be used. Part 2 will also provide safety requirements for IMR fleets (IMRFs). Another future effort, R15.08 Part 3, will provide safety requirements for users of IMRs and IMRFs.

Who should use the ANS for industrial mobile robots?

Mobile robot manufacturers are the primary intended audience for R15.08 Part 1. Mobile robot integrators and users should also become familiar with the requirements in R15.08 Part 1; more detailed requirements will be in R15.08 Parts 2 and 3.

“It’s been more than five years since the need for this standard was first identified and exploratory work was done,” Franklin said. “The technical expert volunteers who worked on this committee have done amazing work with R15.08 Part 1. We are looking forward to publishing this highly-anticipated document for our industry.”

Jackie Rose is marketing and communications manager Association for Advancing Automation (A3), a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology,

KEYWORDS: R15.08 Part 1, industrial mobile robots, safety

Official Standard Title is R15.08, American National Standard for Industrial Mobile Robots — Safety Requirements — Part 1: Requirements for the Industrial Mobile Robot

Official Reference Number is ANSI/RIA R15.08-1-2020

Shorthand Name(s) are R15.08-1; IMR Safety


While R15.08-1 targets robot manufacturers, system integrators and users, who will be address in parts 2 and 3, also can benefit.


For the standard, look here in November 2020 for ANSI/RIA R15.08-1-2020.

Original content can be found at Control Engineering.

Author Bio: Jackie Rose, Association for Advancing Automation (A3)