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collision sensor

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

A collision sensor is a piece of electronic safety equipment that detects an impact through vibrations. Collision sensors are also known as impact sensors.  

Collision sensors are used in many industrial settings, including manufacturing and utilities. The sensors are also used in consumer goods, such as in collision avoidance and detection systems in cars. Impact sensors are similarly used in many types of robots to prevent damage to products, tools and the robot itself.

In many settings, quick detection of collisions with unexpected objects can reduce damages, costs  and  injuries. In environments where humans and robots work together, collision detection is particularly important for safety. In manufacturing robotics, collision detection systems not only register impacts of the tool head but absorb the shock and can reset the robot in its tool path. By avoiding damage, these functions translate to increased safety and real-world savings for manufacturers.

In less complex devices, collision sensors use a simple pressure switch connected to a surface that is likely to encounter collisions. They may also use accelerometers that measure gravitational force changes, with rapid changes and high forces indicating an impact from an unexpected collision.

This was last updated in May 2018

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