Center for Occupational Robotics Research

What are our priorities?

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Center for Occupational Robotics Research (CORR) addresses the safety of today’s workers who use, wear, or work near robots by working in partnership with academic researchers, trade associations, robotics manufacturers, employers using robotics, integrators who set-up robotic systems in workplaces, labor organizations, and government agencies. The Center addresses traditional robots and emerging technologies such as collaborative robots, mobile robots, powered exoskeletons, and remotely controlled or autonomous vehicles and drones. The Center focuses on:

  • The potential for robotics to prevent worker injuries and musculoskeletal disorders
  • Increasing understanding of human and robot interactions to ensure human worker safety
  • Improving the ability to identify and track injuries and fatalities involving robotics
  • Providing guidance on working safely with robotics
What do we do?
  • Monitor trends in robotics and associated injuries.
  • Evaluate robotics as sources of, and inter-ventions for, workplace injuries and illnesses.
  • Establish risk profiles of robotics applications in workplaces.
  • Identify research needs and conduct studies to improve the safety, health, and well-being of humans working with robots and robotics.
  • Support the development and adoption of consensus safety standards.
  • Develop and communicate best practices, guidance, and training for safe interactions between human workers and robots.
What have we accomplished?
  • Expanded formal partnerships, including joining the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Instituteexternal icon, to collaborate on the safe development and deployment of robotics.
  • Disseminated information to improve the safety of occupational exoskeletons, including guest-editing and contributing to a special scientific journal issueexternal icon, publishing the proceedings of a scientific symposium, and authoring scientific articles and a NIOSH Science blog.
  • Published NIOSH Science blog with the NIOSH-supported Washington State Fatality Assessment and Control Program highlighting their Hazard Alertpdf iconexternal icon on working safely with remote-controlled demolition machines.
  • Published a scientific article and associated NIOSH Science blog on implications for artificial intelligence on the future of work, including increased autonomy of robots.
What’s next?
  • Contribute to the virtual Ergo Xexternal icon symposium on Cybersecurity, Exoskeletons and Robotics to be held on October 13-14, 2020 which is a special event of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
  • Engage in stakeholder outreach for a guidance document on working safely with robots as part of an Allianceexternal icon between the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Robotic Industries Association (RIA), and NIOSH.
  • Partner with the NIOSH Mining Program to host a workshop on robotics and automation in the mining industry.
  • Provide input on occupational safety concerns to a 2020 Update to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) “Standardization Roadmap for Unmanned Aircraft” to help fill gaps in consensus standards.
  • Partner with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to make funding available to study collaborative robots in the workplace through the National Robotics Initiative 2.0 (NRI 2.0)external icon.

Mention of any company or product does not constitute endorsement by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


The Center provides scientific leadership to guide the development and use of occupational robots that enhance worker safety, health, and well-being. This snapshot shows recent accomplishments and upcoming work.

Estimated annual worldwide supply of industrial robots 2011-2018 and 2019-2022* (in thousands of units)
Estimated annual worldwide supply of industrial  robots 2011-2018 and 2019-2022*  (in thousands of units)

Source: International Federation of Robotics [2019]. Executive Summary World Robotics 2019 Industrial Robotspdf iconexternal icon. *2019-2022 are projected numbers

Traditional versus collaborative industrial robots: thousands of units sold worldwide
Traditional versus collaborative industrial robots in units sold worldwide (in thousands of units)

Source: International Federation of Robotics [2019]. World Robotics Report Press Releaseexternal icon.

Projected worldwide drone market by industry/function, 2016-2020 (in billions)
Projected worldwide drone market by  industry/function, 2016-2020 (in billions)

Source: Goldman Sachs [2016]. Drones: Reporting for Workexternal icon.

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August 2020

Page last reviewed: August 20, 2020