To view submitted ethical challenge proposals for ICRA 2023, click the button below:

***HACKATHON Announcement***

The Roboethics Competition Hackathon is underway! As planned, we’ve had a chance to look at the Ethics Challenge submissions and we’ve decided to use two of them as the focus of this year’s Hackathon. We picked these two submissions because we believe each:

(a) provides a thorough ethics analysis that is focused on the scenario we defined in the Roboethics Competition description (i.e. focuses the personas, items, and long term care home context);

(b) provides a set of engineering requirements that are focused on the ethical analysis contained in the report;

(c) provides enough detail to allow teams flexibility in their implementation approach; and

(d) is challenging and exciting!


Your task is to pick ONE of the two reports and implement it as completely as possible given the time constraints.

The Ethics Challenge

Quick Facts

1. A Project Report (.pdf):

2. A Video Presentation (.mov or .mp4)

Background Information – Robots that Can Fetch

Placing robots in complex, ethically challenging environments raises many fascinating ethical issues. One such emerging category of robots is “fetch” robots. They pick up and deliver objects to humans upon request. These robots can perceive and respond to their users to accomplish what seems like a simple task—fetching objects—but is actually quite ethically challenging. This Roboethics Design Competition challenges teams to identify ethical issues that a fetch robot will encounter in an Elderly Care Home setting, research those ethical issues, and resolve them by proposing a set of engineering requirements that a hypothetical engineering team could use to guide their design activities.

For examples of robots the competition organizers are imagining, take a look at these two robots:

Moxi: a robot that could be placed in hospitals to help the staff, such as nurses or physiotherapists

TIAGo: a general-purpose fetch robot

The Design Scenario and Tasks

Imagine your team is part of an interdisciplinary team of designers, philosophers, engineers, psychologists, and roboticists, that specializes in designing robots to navigate complex ethical situations.

Your main tasks in this challenge are to identify and analyze ethical issues (e.g., privacy, autonomy, fairness) that are likely to arise within an elderly care home when deploying a fetch robot and, based on your ethics analysis, produce a set of design requirements that could help the robot’s engineers address those ethical issues.

Starting Assumptions:

You will be evaluated on the following: identify particular ethical issues that could arise in response to fetch commands (issue identification); research the ethical issues and describe them in detail (ethics analysis); determine how the robot should be designed to respond to each of those ethical issues (resolving the issues); and produce a set of engineering requirements to address those issues in design (ethics requirements). An example of an ethical issue that might arise in this design context involves someone asking a robot to fetch a kind of food that could cause them health problems (e.g., a diabetic elderly care home resident with dementia asks for a candy bar). You’ll need to research why that is an ethical issue (e.g. it is a health risk and the person has a limited capacity to make responsible decisions because of their dementia), propose a resolution (e.g. the person should be restricted from issuing such fetch commands), and generate a corresponding engineering requirement (e.g. “Residents with limited capacity to make responsible health decisions should be restricted from issuing fetch commands that would endanger their health”).

Competition organizers have generated a list of predefined personas and objects for you to start with. You can stick to that list in your analysis, but are encouraged to add to those lists to expand on the set of ethical issues that you believe could likely arise in the design scenario. You can also be creative and suggest human-robot interaction methods specifying how a user issues fetch commands to the robot (e.g., voice command, text command from your phone) if you think it will help resolve particular ethical issues. You might also define categories of objects (e.g., based on ownership, hazard levels, preference, shared items, etc) and provide guidelines on how the different categories should be treated based on the relationship between the objects in each category and those requesting/receiving the object.

Keep in mind the current state-of-the-art robotic technologies while thinking about your design. Your robot's features and functionalities should not exceed the capabilities of modern robots. Be creative in designing a robot with ethics in mind, without diving into complex sci-fi solutions that are too far from reality. 

*Critical Note: The focus of this competition is the ethical design of fetch requests, not how the robot might technically achieve the task. No programming is necessary at this stage, but your design proposal must be clear and explicit and be feasible for implementation by an engineer/developer.

Elderly Care Home Context: People, location, and items

Your robot can be placed in different environments within the elderly care home. Various ethical issues may arise depending on how the robot operates. The following is the list of personas, locations, and items in the elderly care home with descriptions.

NOTE: You do NOT need to use all the items, personas, or locations in the following lists. Focus on those that you believe raise important and/or interesting ethical issues.

Context: the Elderly Care Home

1.  The home’s management is experiencing constant staffing issues (i.e. it is understaffed), so they have purchased a fetch robot to help residents and staff with daily tasks.

2.  Daily routine:

Care Robot in the Elderly Care Home

People in the Elderly Care Home

Rooms and Locations in the Elderly Care Home

Items in the Elderly Care Home

*As specified above, your team can add new items.

Personas for the people in the Elderly Care Home

*As specified above, your team can add new personas.





A short project report describing key design decisions and considerations

A short video presentation to highlight the team and its designs to the public and to the judges

Project Report Deliverable Details

Feel free to provide visuals (i.e., diagrams, drawings, storyboard, persona, pseudocode, flowchart), written descriptions, and justifications behind your design decisions. Please follow this link for suggested reading materials to guide your project report. You will need to do additional research to guide your analysis and decision-making.

1.  Identify ethical issues that could arise in response to fetch commands (issue identification)

2.  Research the ethical issues and describe them in detail (ethics analysis)

3.  Determine how the robot should be designed to respond to each of those ethical issues (resolving the issues)

4.  Produce a set of engineering requirements to address those issues in design (ethics requirements)

5.  Evaluate your ethical robot design 

Submission Details

Teams are required to submit:

1.  a written project report (in PDF format) and

2.  a video presentation (in .mov or .mp4)

Report Format and Details

Video Presentation Details

Teams must create a short video (5 min) outlining their report. The video should serve to be a high-level summary of your team’s approach and will be posted publicly on the ICRA 2023 Roboethics Competition website and YouTube.The video should include:


IMPORTANT NOTE: Once you submit the deliverables (report & video), it is not possible to edit any of the deliverables and submit them again. Your first submission is your final submission. 

Evaluation Criteria

Judges will score each criterion and add their qualitative feedback/comments for each section.

Grounding on Research into relevant background information (20%)

Understanding and the analysis of the ethical context/ scenario (30%)

Quality and Effectiveness (e.g., practicality, applicability) of the provided ethical robotic solution (30%)

Innovativeness and Creativeness of the ethical robotic solution (10%)

Communication of the proposed ethical robotic solution (10%)

Good luck!

Sign up to participate

Interested in participating, or learning more about the competition? Sign up here to get the latest information about the competition, and to let us know how you'd like to participate. We will communicate any updates and new information about the competition via the mailing list linked to the sign-up forms as well as the website.