Robotics community speaks out – Increased communication with citizens and policymakers needed

Right at the beginning of the Robotics4EU project, we conducted a survey with 1232 responses and 60 interviews in 15 countries with policymakers, robotics community members, and the citizens to understand whether and to which extent the nontechnological aspects of robotics hinder the widespread adoption of robots in Europe.

The identified top concerns affecting the robotics uptake were technological unemployment (in socio-economic), safety (in ethics), surveillance (in data), harmonized regulation (in legal) and the lack of education (in education and engagement). When inquiring about robots’ acceptability, stakeholders tend to believe industrial robots (non-collaborative) performing specific tasks are already widely accepted. The stakeholders considered that overall, the first hindrance towards the integration of intelligent robots in society lies in their technological immaturity. Once such robots have proven their usefulness and efficiency in performing a task, a focus must be given on the absence of a direct negative impact on the user (safety, privacy, understandability, etc.).

Collaboration between the policymakers and the robotics community is limited in its productivity due to the lack of communication and technical knowledge possessed by the policymakers. Common goals of boosting widespread adoption of robotics can only be reached by building networks and sharing objective information in universal terms understandable to all robotics community members, policymakers, and the public.

Our recommendations are:

  1. To improve the interaction between policymakers and robotics producers;
  2. In developing robots that interact with humans the focus should be in providing smoother interactions to provide robots that are more user-friendly. Robots must be safe, and privacy of individuals should be ensured;
  3. It is important to showcase that robots are advantageous for work and are not intended to replace humans to address the fear of technological unemployment.

Authors: Anneli Roose, Maarja Sau, Agnes Delaborde, CIVITTA and LNE

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