How can we design robots to navigate ethically sensitive situations? As more robots enter our homes and offices, these ethically sensitive situations include the design of everyday interactions with people. For instance, if a visitor requests a home robot to fetch the homeowner’s credit card, what should the robot do? What if an underaged member of the family asks for an alcoholic drink? How should we program the robot to handle such situations and others like it? While adults typically navigate such situations with ease, designing robots with similar capabilities remains a giant technical challenge.
The purpose of the Roboethics to Design & Development competition at the RO-MAN 2021 conference is to highlight ethical challenges present in designing near-future interaction with robots for the home, and to inspire new solutions to consider human values in addressing these challenges. That is, we plan to leverage the promise of robotics competitions toward the advancement of robots that interact with humans ethically.
Participating teams are expected to submit technical solutions (i.e., program a TIAGo robot running ROS and simulated in Gazebo) for such challenges. However, the functional technical challenges present in building robots for the home (e.g., object recognition, picking up objects, navigation) will be drastically simplified such that the ethics considerations present in the design of robot behaviours -- rather than the performance of the team’s functional robot performances (e.g., how well the robot grasps an object) -- remain the focus of this competition.