Responsible domestic robotics: Exploring ethical implications of robots in the home

Lachlan Urquhart, Dominic Reedman-Flint, Natalie Leesakul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Purpose: The vision of robotics in the home promises increased convenience, comfort, companionship, and greater security for users. The robot industry risks causing harm to users, being rejected by society at large, or being regulated in overly prescriptive ways if robots are not developed in a socially responsible manner. The purpose of this paper is to explore some of the challenges and requirements for designing responsible domestic robots.

Design/methodology/approach: The paper examines definitions of robotics and the cur-rent commercial state of the art. In particular it considers the emerging technological trends, such as smart homes, that are already embedding computational agents in the fabric of everyday life. The paper then explores the role of values in design, aligning with human computer interaction and considers the importance of the home as a deployment setting for robots. The paper examines what responsibility in robotics means and draws lessons from past home information technologies.
An exploratory pilot survey was conducted to understand user concerns about different aspects of domestic robots such as form, privacy and trust. The paper provides these findings, married with literature analysis from across technology law, computer ethics and computer science.

Findings: By drawing together both empirical observations and conceptual analysis, this paper concludes that user centric design is needed to create responsible domestic robotics in the future.

Originality/value: This multidisciplinary paper provides conceptual and empirical research from different domains to unpack the challenges of designing responsible domestic robot-ics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-272
JournalJournal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society
Issue number2
Early online date13 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventETHICOMP 2018 - Gdansk, Poland
Duration: 24 Sept 201826 Sept 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • domestic robotics
  • cyber-physical systems
  • internet of things
  • responsiblity
  • regulation/governance
  • law
  • trust


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