Robots in society #1

Robots in society: Overview and emerging scenarios

Detailed programme
The main aim of these seminars is to bring together everyone with an interest in Robotics, i.e., researchers in robotics, professionals in a variety of robot application domains and stakeholders from the general public to discuss the growing role of robots in everyday life and the emerging technical, regulatory, ethical and legal challenges being faced to satisfy the ageing societal requirements for personal care and medical services.

The role of robots is evolving rapidly from their industrial manufacturing roots to a wide variety of service applications where close human-robot interaction is needed. A key feature of robots is that they possess a “degree of autonomy” and hence can have the capability to make independent decisions for fulfilling their intended task. Good examples are physical assistant robots which are “personal care robots that physically assist a user to perform required tasks by providing supplementation or augmentation of personal capabilities”, these are planned to help with personal mobility for maintaining independence and quality of life of elderly persons. Other examples include medical robots for surgery, or rehabilitation of patients or provide support to disabled persons (such as mobility of amputees or education of children with autism). Even driverless cars and drones can come under the “robotics agenda”. How the new emerging robots and their autonomous capabilities should be introduced in the various applications is causing a variety of concerns relating to safety, ethics and law.

During the first event you will have the chance to interact with Zeno from the DE-ENIGMA project thanks to Dr. Alyssa M. Alcorn from the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE).

Professor Alan Winfield
Bristol Robotics Laboratory & Science Communication Unit
University of the West of England, Bristol

Title: Ethical Governance is essential to building trust in robotic systems

In general technology is trusted if it brings benefits while also safe, well regulated and, when accidents happen, subject to robust investigation. One of the reasons we trust airliners is that we know they are part of a highly regulated industry with an excellent safety record. The reason commercial aircraft are so safe is not just good design, it is also the tough safety certification processes and, when things do go wrong, robust processes of air accident investigation. Should driverless cars, for instance, be regulated through a body similar to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), with a driverless car equivalent of the Air Accident Investigation Branch? Regulation requires regulatory bodies, linked with public engagement to provide transparency and confidence in the robustness of regulatory processes. In this talk I will make the argument that ethical governance is essential to building public trust, and outline a framework for ethical governance in robotics.

Alan Winfield is Professor of Robot Ethics at the University of the West of England (UWE), Bristol, UK, and Visiting Professor at the University of York. He received his PhD in Digital Communications from the University of Hull in 1984, then co-founded and led APD Communications Ltd until taking-up appointment at UWE, Bristol in 1992. Winfield co-founded the Bristol Robotics Laboratory where his current research is focussed on cognitive robotics. Winfield is an advocate for robot ethics; he is a member of the British Standards Institute working group that drafted BS 8611: Guide to the Ethical Design of Robots and Robotic Systems, and he currently chairs the General Principles committee of the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethical Considerations in the Design of Autonomous Systems. Winfield has published over 200 works, including ‘Robotics: A Very Short Introduction’ (Oxford University Press, 2012), and lectures widely on robotics, presenting to both academic and public audiences.
BCS The Chartered Institute for IT,
5 Southampton Street,
London WC2E 7HA
 Gurvinder S. Virk; 

David Rippon;

Peter Dudley;

Helen Simon;

Jean Irvine;

Nigel Lewis;

The events are organised by BCSWCIT and CLAWAR Association Limited as core partners.


BCS The Chartered Institute for IT, promotes wider social and economic progress through the advancement of information technology science and practice (see

WCIT is the 100th City of London Livery Company with the aim to promote the IT industry for contributing to the greater good of society (see

CLAWAR is a UK registered charity with the mission: “The advancement of education and science for the public benefit in the field of robotics and associated technologies” (see

Gurvinder S. Virk;