Safety and ergonomics in human-robot interactive agricultural operations

Lefteris Benos, Avital Bechar, Dionysis Bochtis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


An emerging scientific field is the study of safety and ergonomics in the agricultural sector during human-robot interaction. Human-robotic synergetic systems are considered to be the most mature way to circumvent problems appearing due to the complex and unpredictable nature of the agricultural environment, which contrasts with the stable domain found in industrial settings. In promising working ecosystems, the distinctive cognitive human characteristics of perception, decision making and acting can be combined with the strength and repeatable accuracy of robots. However, safety must be guaranteed both in terms of avoiding accidents during unwanted physical contacts and provoking musculoskeletal disorders. The latter is a concise term for describing numerous soft tissues disorders, which have reached epidemic proportions among farmers undermining their quality of life. This investigation, by describing the fundamentals of human-robot interaction from an agriculture-oriented perspective, methodically tries to identify potential hazards that can put human safety at risk. In order to overcome these hazards, approaches for minimising the occurrence of injuries analysed along with methods for safe collaboration. The innovation of this study lies on focusing on ergonomics during agricultural human-robot interactive operations. Thus, through reviewing the basic ergonomic principles and the main risk factors, potential challenges are captured concerning human factors, technologies and policy directions. Ensuring of safety in this kind of systems should have a positive impact in technological, societal and economic aspects. For this purpose, an intensive effort and interdisciplinary collaboration are required to establish a sustainable anthropocentric human-robot interactive ecosystem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-72
Number of pages18
JournalBiosystems Engineering
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Collaborative robotics
  • Field operations
  • Human factors
  • Human-robot interaction
  • Safety culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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