September 25, 2014      

After two years of research and about $2.3 million in funding, the most advanced, government-funded effort on how European legislators can successfully integrate new robotic and human enhancement technologies into society has concluded. The results of the RoboLaw project are in.

The consortium on Sept. 22 released its deliberations in a paper called the “Guidelines on Regulating Robotics” (pdf). Two days later, the findings were presented at a session on legal affairs at the European Parliament, which footed most of the project’s cost.

In this edition of the RBR Podcast, RBR analyst Emmet Cole details the findings of RoboLaw with Andrea Bertolini, a post-doc researcher at Scuola Superiore Sant?Anna (SSSA), in Pisa, Italy, the institution that led the consortium, and by Ryan Calo, the University of Washington expert in robot law and policy who recently led calls for the establishment of a Federal Robotics Commission, to breakdown the results of the RoboLaw project.

Bertolini explains the message this sends to venture capitalists; describes how liability exemptions and no-fault clauses for manufacturers might be used to encourage the development of European robotics; and much more. He also responds to one of the more interesting topics raised at the beginning of the RoboLaw project: the question of the impact that human enhancement technologies, such as prostheses, implants, and exoskeletons, may have on the long-held legal distinction between person and property.

Calo, who had a minor external advisory role in the RoboLaw project, compares the regulatory environments in Europe and the United States and calls for increased U.S. government investment in robotics, and robotics law and policy research.

Listen to the podcast below and read the results of the RoboLaw project, the “Guidelines on Regulating Robotics” (pdf)

Podcast Rundown

0:35 Message the Guidelines document sends to venture capitalists
4:44 No-fault clauses for manufacturers
5:32 How will compensation issues be resolved?
6:55 Liability exemptions and no-fault plans are not going to work in every situation
7:55 Is RoboLaw an attempt by the European Commission to avoid regulatory delays that plagued the Internet?
8:36 How does Europe compare to other regions in terms of laying out the foundations for regulation and policy in the robotics space?
10:41 Comparison of the regulatory readiness between Europe and the United States
12:04 European government backing robotics with considerable investment compared to United States
14:40 Policy inertia can have technology chilling effects
16:17 Legal distinction between person and property