Tutorial at IROS 2022 - Ethical, Legal and User Perspectives on Robots and Systems (ELAUPORAS) – Assessments and Potential Measures - Rm16 (Room 510)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies, including robots, pose challenges and opportunities for health- and home care. Amongst the relevant and essential aspects currently discussed are privacy, cybersecurity, safety, diversity, and inclusion considerations. There is increasing attention on the ethical implications and legal issues related to robots and systems. Recently, the European Commission has proposed the new regulation on Artificial Intelligence, e.g., the Artificial Intelligence Act (AIA) (European Commission 2021a), and the New Machinery Directive (MD) (European Commission 2021b). Other important ongoing efforts are defining standards for intelligent systems and studying design with user participation. 

The tutorial will provide an overview of the most pressing ethical and legal challenges surrounding the development and use of robots in human environments. The tutorial will illustrate the challenges related to privacy, security, safety, and diversity of users through several examples from the speakers different countries. The tutorial aims to raise awareness about these topics and engage with the community to think about ways to reduce the unfavorable impact on society.

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Tutorial Zoom Link 

Meeting ID: 667 1662 2115
Passcode: 320326

Tutorial Objectives 

We are witnessing the transition of robots from labs to publicly accessible spaces where they interact more with humans. This requires an increased focus on Human-Robot-Interaction, raising inherent ethical and legal issues. The tutorial will give the audience insight into regulations and initiatives, addressing the main ethical implications and legal issues currently being discussed and also how these can open up new directions in research related to robotics and AI systems (Saplacan, Khaksar, and Torresen 2021). We will present the findings in an earlier launched review (Torresen, 2018) supplemented with recent work and initiatives in this respect. 

Measures to address the implications and issues are important to make robots more relevant for human interaction and assistance and are especially important when addressing Social Assistive Robots (SAR). The tutorial will present some of these aspects through concrete examples from ongoing research projects, and other ongoing work on legal considerations, development of relevant standards, universal design principles and more. This will be from an international perspective with speakers representing three different continents (Europe, Asia and South America) and with both female and male gender.

There is no specific prerequisite knowledge required. Thus, the tutorial will be targeting all attendees of the IROS-2022 conference.

Added value for the participants and learning objectives of the tutorial: 

  • Getting an overview of the most commonly expressed ethical and legal considerations with regards to robots and systems.
  • Get insight into the European Artificial Intelligence Act (AIA) and the new Machinery Directive.
  • Get knowledge about ethical aspects regarding inclusive robots, diversity of users, and how human autonomy is addressed in relation to the interaction with and use of robots. 
  • Get an overview of and insight into relevant standards that are in progress or have already been approved.
  • Get insight into how ethical assessment and legal challenges are relevant for research and development of robots and systems.
  • Learning will also be strengthened with concrete examples and cases from the current or previous research projects on how, e.g., elderly and working-age users experience interaction, privacy, and safety issues related to robots.

More info and schedule here

More details about the content of the tutorial

Robots and artificial intelligence demonstrate to effectively contribute to an increasing number of different domains, e.g., robots are being applied increasingly in close interaction with humans. In fact, as highlighted before (Khamis 2019), Robots and artificial intelligence can play a key role as an enabler to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations (UN) 2015).

At the same time, a growing number of people–in the general public and research–have started to consider several potential ethical challenges related to the development and use of such technology. There are also initiatives across countries like the European Commission appointed High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI HLEG) that have a general objective to support the implementation of the European Strategy on Artificial Intelligence (European Commission 2021a).

The risk-based approach to regulating AI and robotics seeks to legally regulate only high-risk AI (and robotics). Less risky technology development or use would thus, not be regulated by the EU Artificial Intelligence Act (Mahler 2022). Initial ideas regarding obligations for high-risk AI include requirements for training data, record-keeping, information to be provided, robustness and accuracy, as well as human oversight, meant to ensure 'trustworthy AI'. In addition, safety rules and non-discrimination will probably also play a role. For a developer of smart (AI-based) robotics, this means that new legal requirements will apply if the use of this technology is classified as risky. In that case, the technology development should already take into account these requirements.

On the other hand, there is a complex between current existing legal regulations and emerging technologies like AI and robotics. Sometimes regulators need to consider flexible and non-binding ethical principles and social norms  or so called “Soft Laws” for advanced technology governance in order to cover such legal gaps. However, it is not an easy task in AI governance at the level of human-robot interaction due to social and cultural differences from various countries. Hence, there is a demand to consider a design-centered guiding framework (Weng and Hirata 2022) for helping regulators applying soft laws into HRI governance.

Several different standards have recently been defined and approved. IEEE has in recent years had their IEEE Standards Project for Model Process for Addressing Ethical Concerns During System Design. One of the standards resulting from that work is the Ontological Standard for Ethically Driven Robotics and Automation Systems (IEEE P7007) that will be presented in the tutorial. IEEE 7007 contributes to the Ethics of AI domain in multiple ways. It provides a formal representation about the domain that could be used for giving support to the elaboration of regulations on the field so as governing frameworks to strengthen the collaboration across Nations. UNESCO recently published the very first normative instrument on Ethics of Artificial Intelligence (UNESCO Digital Library 2021). This instrument was approved by acclamation by the 193 UNESCO's Member States at the end of 2021. This instrument presents concrete actions to the several domains impacted by AI. It puts human rights at the forefront of these actions to unleash the benefits and opportunities that AI can bring while mitigating its risks. This instrument will also be discussed in the tutorial.

Further, in relation to human rights and non-discrimination, we will introduce Universal Design (UD) as an ethical charter for inclusive robot design and interaction. Specifically, the tutorial will further present the UD principles that so far have been used not only in physical environments for providing accessibility to people with disabilities but also in the design of web interfaces and mobile applications. Under the umbrella of UD, the tutorial will include presentations and discussions around users' inclusion and diversity. Specifically, the tutorial will show why, how, and when these principles can be valuable and relevant for robot designers, engineers, researchers, and others working within the robotics domain.Furthermore, these topics will be exemplified with concrete examples from current or previous research projects on how various vulnerable users (e.g., elderly) experience and/or understand their interaction (Hellström and Bensch 2018) with various types of care robots, e.g., SAR. The notion of care robots, participation of vulnerable users in studies with robots, UD and inclusion, ethics, ethics of care, roboethics will be discussed.


Further, among the most important challenges within human-robot interaction are those related to privacy, safety and security. Countermeasures can be taken at different points in time while planning, designing, implementing, or using a robot, or a service including a robot. At the use time, there will be a need for the system by itself to perform some ethical reasoning if operating in autonomous mode. Specific attention will be needed if multiple, fully autonomous systems are to interact and make decisions together. We are currently undertaking research in various projects where the challenges appear, including robots for elderly at home and mental health care technology. Responsible personalization is one of the main goals of these projects. The tutorial will introduce some examples from our own and others´ work and how the challenges can be addressed both from technical and human perspectives. Ethical issues should not be seen only as challenges but also as new research opportunities contributing to more useful services and systems.


This work is partially supported by The Research Council of Norway as a part of Collaboration on Intelligent Machines (COINMAC) project, under grant agreement 261645, Vulnerability in the Robot Society (VIROS) under grant agreement 288285 and through its Centres of Excellence scheme, RITMO with project No. 262762.


European Commission. 2021a. “Proposal for a Regulation Laying down Harmonised Rules on Artificial Intelligence (Artificial Intelligence Act) | Shaping Europe’s Digital Future.” April 21, 2021. https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/library/proposal-regulation-laying-down-harmonised-rules-artificial-intelligence-artificial-intelligence .

European Commission. 2021b. “Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on Machinery Products.” April 21, 2021. https://ec.europa.eu/docsroom/documents/45508

Fosch-Villaronga, Eduard & Mahler, Tobias.2021. “Cybersecurity, safety and robots: Strengthening the link between cybersecurity and safety in the context of care robots.”Computer Law and Security Review. ISSN 0267-3649. 41. doi: 10.1016/j.clsr.2021.105528.

Khamis, Alaa ; Li, Howard ; Prestes, Edson ; Haidegger, Tamas . AI: A Key Enabler of Sustainable Development Goals, Part 1 and 2 [Industry Activities]. IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine, v. 26, p. 95-102 and p. 122-127, 2019.

Mahler, Tobias. 2022. “Between Risk Management and Proportionality: The Risk Based Approach in the EU’s Artificial Intelligence Act Proposal.” In: Liane Colonna & Stanley Greenstein (editors), Law in the Era of Artificial Intelligence, Stockholm 2022, pp. 247-272

Saplacan, D., Weria Khaksar, and Jim Torresen. 2021. “On Ethical Challenges Raised by Care Robots: A Review of the Existing Regulatory-, Theoretical-, and Research Gaps.” In Proceedings of The 20th International Conference in Advanced Robotics and Its Social Impacts, 8. Japan/Virtual: IEEE. https://doi.org/10.1109/ARSO51874.2021.9542844.

Hellström, Thomas, and Suna Bensch. 2018. “Understandable Robots - What, Why, and How.” Paladyn, Journal of Behavioral Robotics9 (1): 110–23. https://doi.org/10.1515/pjbr-2018-0009 .

Torresen, Jim. 2018. “A Review of Future and Ethical Perspectives of Robotics and AI.” Frontiers in Robotics and AI 4. https://doi.org/10.3389/frobt.2017.00075 .

UNESCO Digital Library. 2021. “Draft Text of the Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence.” 2021. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000377897.

United Nations (UN). 2015. “Sustainable Development Goals .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.” 2015. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs .

Weng YH, Hirata Y. Design-Centered HRI Governance for Healthcare Robots. J Healthc Eng. 2022 Jan 7;2022:3935316. doi: 10.1155/2022/3935316.

Wynsberghe, Aimee van, and Noel Sharkey. 2020. “Special Issue on Responsible Robotics: Introduction.” Ethics and Information Technology 22 (4): 281–82. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10676-020-09562-y.

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Link to 2022 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2022)https://www.iros2022.org 


Published July 5, 2022 4:54 PM - Last modified Oct. 23, 2022 2:00 AM