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September 2016

European Parliament’s report a potential setback to robotics

The draft report of the European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs was published on May 31, 2016, with recommendations to the European Commission on Civil Law Rules on Robotics. Besides aiming to regulate and oversee every aspect of robotics research, design process, engineering, audit controls, etc., emphasis is placed on a European standardisation for safety of robots in order to avoid discrepancies between Member States and fragmentation of the European Union internal market. 

The suggested proposal imposes a heavy burden on research, development and innovation, creating a cumbersome and unnecessary bureaucratic process. As far as legal and safety issues are concerned, the standardization of robot safety at the level of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is and has been used globally. Thus, safety requirements for human-robot collaboration are already subject to an ISO technical specification valid worldwide.

Patrick Schwarzkopf, Director of EUnited Robotics, said: “We are very critical of the proposals made in this report, e.g. ideas to introduce a robot register, to create the status of an “electronic person” or to impose social security contributions on robots. The suggested regulatory framework implies a high level of bureaucracy lacking in practical relevance potentially thwarting the social and economic benefits of robotics”.

EUnited Robotics welcomes the European Parliament’s approach to create the basis for a harmonized legal framework for robotics and autonomous systems. However, over-regulation and excessive bureaucracy will do more harm than good.

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