JUNE, 2014


Regulating Emerging Robotic Technologies in Europe:
Robotics facing Law and Ethics

Project No.: 289092
Start date: March 1st, 2012
Duration: 27 Months
Funding scheme: Collaborative project
EU Financial Contribution: 1.497.966 EUR


Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna

1. Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna di Studi Universitari e di Perfezionamento di Pisa (SSSA)

The research team of SSSA includes people from two different Institutes (DIRPOLIS and Biorobotics), and four different Laboratories of the School, in order to coordinate the proposal through a multidisciplinary perspective. These are the WISS Laboratory (Welfare, Innovation, Services and Development), the CDG Laboratory (International research laboratory on conflict, development and global politics), the ARTS Laboratory (Advanced robotics technology and systems laboratory), and the LIDER Lab. The fields of research in these Laboratories are Public Law and Social Policies, Private Law, Human Rights, and BioRobotics.

Main tasks in the project: SSSA is the leader of the proposal. It will be responsible for the management and the dissemination of the project. It will coordinate the elaboration of a “White Paper on Regulating Robotics”, containing the guidelines and suggestions for the European Commission. It will develop the research activities in WP1, studying the features of emerging soft law by investigating on the nature of ethical rules and codes as sources of law.

SSSA RoboLaw Team:
Prof. Dr. Erica Palmerini
Prof. Dr. Paolo Dario
Dr. Pericle Salvini
Dr. Elettra Stradella
Dr. Andrea Bertolini
Dr. Alberto Pirni
Dr. Antonio Carnevale
Dr. Federico Azzarri
Dr. Angela Di Carlo
Dr. Luca Nocco

University of Tilburg

2. University of Tilburg, Law School, Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT)

The Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society is part of Tilburg Law School, Tilburg University, the Netherlands. TILT's research covers a wide range of topics related to developments in ICT, biotechnology, and other emerging technologies. These developments are studied in the context of important domains of the expanding knowledge society, such as e-government, ecommerce, e-health, ICT regulation, biotechnology and nanotechnology, privacy, identity management, e-signatures, biometrics, cybercrime, security, intellectual property rights, citizenship and governance, globalisation, Europeanization, and ethics. Thanks to its composition, size and history, TILT is in a unique position to participate in the research programme. The thirty researchers (about half of whom have a legal background while the other half have a background in disciplines such as philosophy, ethics, public administration, sociology, psychology, computer science, business and management sciences) make TILT one of the most prominent Dutch research and education institutes in the area of technology regulation. The wide expertise with multidisciplinary research differentiates TILT from other research institutes in the domain of technology regulation. TILT staff have published several books on fundamental human rights and technology regulation (e.g., Ronald Leenes, Bert-Jaap Koops & Paul De Hert, (eds), Constitutional Rights and New Technologies, A Comparative study, T.M.C. Asser Press, 2007; Morag Goodwin, Bert-Jaap Koops, Ronald Leenes (eds), Dimensions of Technology Regulation, Nijmegen: Wolf Legal Publishers, 2010; and Bert-Jaap Koops, Corien Prins, Maurice Schellekens and Mirjam Lips (Eds.), Starting Points for ICT Regulation – Deconstructing Prevalent Policy Oneliners, Springer, 2006). TILT has wide experience in organising and participating in international research projects.

Main tasks in the project: the TILT staff will take part in investigating different branches of the project. First, TILT’s expertise on law and robotics will play a central role in mapping the content and extent of existing and near-future robolaw. Central themes will include robots and liability, the legal status and (legal, moral) agency of robots, and robot rights. But TILT’s staff also focuses on new allies in robolaw, for instance relating to intellectual property rights, for instance in view of robots obtaining new behavioural patterns from task repositories. Moreover, using their legal skills they will be lead the development of a new methodology to chart current and upcoming legal questions in relation to the rapidly developing field of robotics. Second, TILT’s staff will use their expertise in ethics and philosophy of technology to chart a number of ethical issues in relation to robotics, focusing on its impact on concepts such as human autonomy, ability/disability, normalcy, fairness and equality.

TILT RoboLaw Team:
Prof. Dr. Ronald Leenes
Prof. Dr. Bert-Jaap Koops
Prof. Dr. Anton Vedder
Dr. Federica Lucivero
Dr. Maurice Schellekens
Dr. Geertrui van Overwalle
Dr. Colette Cuijpers
Dr. Paul Marcelis
Dr. Sandra Olislaegers
Dr. Simone Vermeer

University of Reading

3. University of Reading (UoR), England, School of Systems Engineering

The staff are particularly interested in investigative studies making use of implant and other technology to look into the possibilities of increasing mental capabilities of humans – examples being further senses, sensory substitution, new communication and upgrading memory are immediate examples. Between them they have already carried out numerous practical experiments in this area – indeed such experiments are ongoing. They were also involved in a previous EU NOE entitled ETHICBOTS which was concerned with the ethical aspects of designing robots that can think and act for themselves.

Main tasks in the project: the staff of UoR would take part principally in Work Package 4, investigating the practical realities of human enhancement – in terms of enhancement over and above the human norm as opposed to individual enhancement to overcome a disability. The team will look into the (future) technologies involved and the bidirectional interaction between the human body and technology and (in particular) overall human/technology performance from a systems perspective.

UoR RoboLaw Team:
Prof. Dr. Kevin Warwick
Dr. Huma Shah

Humboldt University of Berlin

Since April 1st 2013, Hmboldt University of Berlin has withdrawn from the RoboLaw project and its role has been undertaken by Ludwig Maximilians University Munich (LMU). The DoW amendment procedere is ongoing and further details on LMU will be communicated upon acceptance of the amendment request.

4. Humboldt University of Berlin (HUB), Germany, Department of Philosophy

The staff has the intent to create an interdisciplinary forum for research on Ethics in front of Robotics. Special emphasis is placed on conceptual aspects of human selfunderstanding and embodiment. They try to defend a ‘Radical Embodied Cognition Thesis’ concerning the necessary situatedness of minds like ours in a shaped body and a structured environment. This thesis is central for contemporary approaches of situated cognition in Cognitive Science and in Philosophy. This opens up not only a rich variety of explanatory models but also promising perspectives for considering ethical consequences. The integrated model is meant to function as a conceptual tool allowing to assess more precisely how personal functions of consciousness may alter due to biotechnological methods. Staff were also involved in a previous interdisciplinary research group entitled «Functions of consciousness» which was composed of scholars from both the humanities and the natural sciences, working together to explore the functions of consciousness.

Main tasks in the project: HUB will coordinate WP4 investigating in particular what it means to be a person or holder of moral and legal rights, because Enhancement may not only affect single individuals in physical and mental sense, but also the coexistence of people. Emerging Robotic Technologies may partially reverse the logical and temporal precedence of the biological-natural versus the cultural dimension of human existence. In this case a cultural communication process provides important prerequisites for understanding biological and technological feature of human existence and managing juristic and ethical issues. The group will also contribute to external discussion and dissemination of the material realized in this project in the widest possible sense – in terms of academic conferences/journals of high standing through keynote presentations and also through mainstream magazine, newspaper articles

HUB RoboLaw Team:
Prof. Dr. Volker Gerhardt
Dr. Fiorella Battaglia
Dr. Joerg Fingerhut

Ludwig Maximilians University Munich

5. Ludwig-Maximilian-University Munich (LMU), Germany, Department of Philosophy

LMU has entered the RoboLaw project since April, 1st 2013. LMU has taken the role and tasks previously attributed to HUB.

The Department of Philosophy of the Ludwig-Maximilian-University is the largest in Germany. Its main areas of teaching and research are: historical philosophy (German idealism, ancient philosophy), analytic philosophy (logics and theory of science) and practical philosophy (rationality ethics and political philosophy). Expertise on research themes of the proposal: the LMU team investigates a broad field of topics in philosophy and ethics, including the theory of rationality, political philosophy and the philosophy of science and technology. Its research is focused on ethical issues pertaining to the societal impact of innovations and technical solutions, such as with the new generation of robots, which are characterized by their coexistence and interaction with human beings in partially or non-structured and uncontrolled environments. Other topics of robo-ethics are also addressed, including: human enhancement, human-robot interaction, autonomy and responsibility. Discussing the current discourse on emerging technologies and on robotics, the LMU argues that any genuine ethical debate needs to overcome simplistic and sterile disputes between supporters and detractors, and to go beyond a naive forecasting discourse grounded in technology-based visions of the future.

Main tasks in the project: LMU will address ethical issues and focus on the methodological and epistemological elements of ethical research. The LMU will coordinate Work Package 5 (WP5). With regard to content, the LMU's specific input in WP5 will be the development of a sound methodology for identifying and analysing ethical issues. Furthermore, the LMU will participate in the elaboration of Guidelines on Regulating Robotics, by providing the ethical background for the analysis (WP6). The LMU will also contribute to external discussion and to the broad dissemination of materials realized during this project -through academic conferences and publishing in journals of high standing, keynote presentations as well as mainstream magazines and newspaper articles (WP7).

LMU RoboLaw Team:
Prof. Dr. Julian Nida-Rümelin
Dr. Fiorella Battaglia
Dr. Benedetta Bisol
Alexander Hevelke
Dr. Nikil Mukerji
Dr Francesca Michelini
Laura Crompton