Cranfield University is calling for members of the public to comment on a survey launched to identify people’s views on robot ethics. Image by ekkasit919 AdobeStock_229343620

Survey explores how comfortable people would be with various robot roles

Cranfield University is calling for members of the public to comment on a survey launched to identify people’s views on robot ethics. It is anticipated that 39.5 million robots will be in our homes by 2021.

Dr Sarah Fletcher, Head of Cranfield University’s Industrial Psychology and Human Factors research group who are managing the survey, said:

“While some of the scenarios in the survey may seem futuristic and far-fetched, they are potentially just around the corner as we have already seen a rapid rise in robot technology in domestic settings.

“Who would have thought 10 years ago that a robot could be vacuuming your floor or mowing your lawn?”

Six different scenarios

The survey explores how comfortable people would be with various robot roles and responsibilities in six different scenarios.

This is to enable designers, developers and manufacturers to understand how people feel about accepting robots and AI into their everyday lives.

The scenarios in the survey cover:

  • Robots used for childcare in the home
  • Surgical robots in a hospital
  • Domestic servant robots in a care home
  • Workplace assistant robots in a factory
  • Robots in a war / conflict zone
  • Companion robots

Respondents of the survey so far have revealed that people remain sceptical about the roles they would feel comfortable handing over to domestic robots. More than 60% believing there should be a limit to what a domestic robot should be allowed to do.

M. Osman Tokhi, Professor at London South Bank University and Chair of the Ethics of Robots and Autonomous Systems sub-committee, said:

“We continue to address these [ethical] issues and challenges within the robot standardisation work to inform the designers, developers, and users of robots, and the results of the survey will form valuable input to our work.”

The findings will help inform the Ethics of Robots and Autonomous Systems Sub-Committee at BSI, when they review the world’s first standard for the ethical design and application of robots and robotic systems; BS 8611:2016.

Members of the public are invited to complete the survey to give their views.