Ethics Challenge

Imagine you run an interdisciplinary consulting company consisting of designers, philosophers, engineers, psychologists, and roboticists, that specialize in ethical decision making policies for robots. You have been hired by a client who is developing the future of consumer-ready home robots. One of the robot’s primary functions is the ability to pick up and bring objects from one place to another upon request. Here are some examples of some modern robots that can currently do this: 

Spot Robot with arm from Boston Dynamics

Husky Robot with arms from Clearpath Robotics

Reem-C robot from PAL robotics

Fetch from Fetch Robotics

TRI-robot (ceiling mount) from Toyota

Droria from Prodrone

The client will create a new robot with similar capabilities. Your task is to develop a policy that could be applied to any of these robots without knowing the specific form in advance.

However, given the possible ethical implications of following through with all fetch requests by all people who might be in a home (e.g., visitors, children, etc.), the client hired you to propose a decision policy for their team to implement to determine which requests the robot should execute and why (or why not). Note: Your client is specifically interested in the ethical design of the robot’s response to the fetch request, not how the robot might technically achieve the task.

For example, you might define categories of objects (e.g., based on ownership, safety, health, age, shared/household items, etc.) and then provide guidelines on how the different categories and the relationship between the objects in each category to those requesting/receiving the object should be considered in the robot’s response to the request and resulting behaviour.

Assume that the robot will be capable of picking up a predefined set of objects from any location (or from any person) in the home and is able to receive explicit fetch commands from anyone in the home (e.g., using an app on their phone, an interface built into the wall, etc.). Assume the robot is also able to verbally communicate with people nearby and send messages to any remote interfaces used to make a given request.


The teams participating in the Ethics Challenge will submit the following Two deliverables:

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 the judges. 

*No programming is necessary at this stage, but your proposed algorithm must be presented in a clear and explicit manner understandable by a developer.

Each team will submit their deliverables to the competition organizers by May 16th, 2022 (23:59, AoE).

A brief note on the Roboethics Hackathon

All teams are required to create the proposal and video, however, teams are not required to participate in the Roboethics Hackathon. During the Roboethics Hackathon, any participant from the competition, regardless of team, as well as members of the ICRA community can voluntarily participate to implement any of the proposed ethical robotic solution.

Project Report Deliverable Details

In order for the judges to better understand the design and strategic decisions that went into the final version of the robot, the teams are requested to submit a short written project report. Judges will review the reports and the video presentation submitted by the team.

Cover Page

Executive Summary

[Exploration of the problem space] 


Participating teams are encouraged to provide information about the design decisions/process to highlight how human values and ethical considerations were incorporated into their proposed solution. Feel free to provide visual (i.e., diagrams, drawings),written descriptions, and justifications behind your design or implementation decisions. Below are suggested topics for the body of the report to explain your team’s solutions and its potential impact:


Appendices should be for references or long form supplemental material only

Video Presentation Deliverable Details

Teams are required to create a short video (5-10 min) on their solution. The video should serve to be a high level summary of your team’s approach, and will be posted publicly on the ICRA 2022 Roboethics Competition website and YouTube.

The video should include:

Up to 3 teams’ solutions will be selected to be implemented during the Hackathon (May, 25th, 2022).

Submission Guidelines

The submission deadline is May 16th at 23:59 (AoE). If there are any technical problems with the content of your files (for example, your file was corrupted), we will try to contact you immediately with the team contact information you provide us. 

Please email your submission to, with the following items:

1. Project report (a single .PDF file)

2. Video presentation (link- youtube, dropbox, googledrive, etc.)

Upon receiving your email, we will check to make sure that we’ve also received your report and acknowledge it via email the following day.

Evaluation Criteria

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%)