Human Robot Interaction: Law on the Home Front

There was a time when only certain people—soldiers, for instance, or workers on an assembly line—had much contact with robots, which is changing. Today, entities from hotels to shopping malls use robots for customer service. Robots appear in our skies, on our streets, and in our hospitals and homes. Law and policymakers have noticed and are beginning to respond. Various countries and states have passed laws around, for instance, unmanned aerial systems and driverless cars. The European Commission commissioned a major study of robotics law.

Ultimately, wise law will require that lawmakers understand how the general population thinks about, reacts to, and engages with robots. This year’s HRI panel asks an international group of experts to think through the role human-robot interaction can play in fashioning domestic policy. The panel will connect existing research with ongoing legal debates in various countries as well as offer a vision for a research agenda that can inform law and policy going forward. Specific topics for discussion will involve:

• What sorts of roles should robots take on in society (or avoid)?
• How does the design of a robot affect its suitability for a given task?
• How can HRI interact with notions of fault or blame associated with tasks accomplished with robots?
• Can HRI be deployed in ways that fail to respect citizen or consumer autonomy or privacy?

We hope the discussion leads to greater engagement between the HRI and legal community and, in the long run, to sounder robotics law and policy grounded in research and experience.

 Session Chairs

Gerhard Sagerer, University of Bielefeld
Michael Goodrich, Bringham Young University
Ryan Calo, University of Washington


Ryan Calo, University of Washington (Moderator)
Woodrow Hartzog, Samford University
Selma Šabanović, Indiana University
Hiroshi Ishiguro, Osaka University
Maarten Seirhaus, Nissan
Peter Kahn, University of Washington