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November 2021

EU project aiming to boost adoption of responsible AI-based robots

Robotics4EU, a €3M project funded by the European Commission, has revealed its plans to help boost the adoption of AI-based robots in Europe. It involves seven organisations from six European countries, with expertise in several technological domains.

The aim of the project is to ensure more widespread adoption of responsible robotics, particularly in the areas of healthcare, inspection and maintenance of infrastructure, agrifood and agile production.

It will run a series of 20 workshops starting this November, which will continue until mid-2022. The goal is to broaden the responsible robotics community in Europe and encourage debate around issues that may arise with the adoption of AI robots. There will be four online workshops and one presentation for each of the four focus areas.

One of the main objectives is to raise awareness about the non-technological aspects of robotics. These include ethical, legal, socioeconomic, data, privacy and gender issues.

To educate people about these issues, the project’s team will gather a group of robotics experts from a variety of different backgrounds, from academia to industry. Together, they will organise community-building and co-creation events to advocate for responsible robotics.

Since January 2021, the project has focused on conducting interviews and online surveys to gain insight from robotics industry stakeholders on current practices and the future deployment of robots. Participants were also asked to identify shortcomings in current robotics research.

The findings were gathered into a report, which was published on the project’s website. It details labour force concerns, the consequences of robotics on overall human wellbeing and robotics community readiness. It also contains policy recommendations and definite goals.

Throughout October, Robotics4EU has been running a consultation engaging approximately 700 citizens from 12 countries in deliberations about the societal and ethical impacts of AI and robotics.

This is a topic that has been on the EU’s agenda. The European Commission is hoping to set new standards for oversight on artificial intelligence in a bid to create what it calls “trustworthy AI”.

Earlier this year, it also outlined a new set of proposals that would classify different AI applications depending on their risks and implement varying degrees of restrictions.

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