Trust & Robots

How to design robots that we trust in interaction?

An autonomous system is a machine or software capable of operating in and interacting with an environment, without direct and continuous human control. While we have been developing systems with various degrees of autonomy for the past fifty years, these have predominantly operated in restricted environments (such as production lines) or have had very limited functionality (such as vacuum cleaning robots). The development of new classes of autonomous systems, such as medical robots, “driver-less” cars, and assistive care robots has opened up questions on how we can integrate truly autonomous systems into our society. We are primarily concerned with two issues that are crucial to the future acceptance and use of autonomous systems: ethics and trust. Once a system is truly autonomous, i.e. learning from interactions, moving and manipulating the world we are living in, and making decisions by itself, we must be certain that it will act in a safe and ethical way, i.e. that it will be able to distinguish ‘right’ from ‘wrong’ and make the decisions we would expect of it. In order for society to accept these new machines, we must also trust them, i.e. we must believe that they are reliable and that they are trying to assist us, especially when engaged in close human-robot interaction.


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