Multi-stakeholder, Universities

Responsible Innovation and Robotics

Hilary Sutcliffe

18 Jan 2017



As part of our work with the University of Sheffield we were invited by Sheffield Robotics to help consider the implications of RRI with them.  It is an area they already gave much thought to, as an inter-disciplinary group with ethicists and other social scientists embedded in the teams.  However, they were looking to explore new approaches and implications for them and how they may embed this new thinking within their systems. 


We are only at the beginning of this process, but the work to date involved:

  • Presentation to the team of an introduction to RRI and the RRI frameworks developed in the UK and through EC H2020.
  • Working with the team, we prepared a proposal exploring ways forward and a draft of potential 'Sheffield Commitments' - which may help formalise their approach.
  • The practicalities of these were explored at a workshop considering RRI and specific applications of robotics - chosen were robotics and infrastructure inspection, and robot pets for dementia patients.
  • Current discussions focus on the integrating of this thinking with the EPSRC Principles for Robotics and potential European Commission plans for EU-wide rules on robotics, including a Code of Ethical Conduct.
  • The appropriate relationship between this work and the Foundation for Responsible Robotics, created by Sheffield's Emeritus Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics
    &  Public Engagement Noel Sharkey, is also being considered.


Hilary also spoke at TAROS (Towards Autonomous Robotics Systems) conference 2016 - about the importance of stakeholder involvement and responsibility.  


Her speech was given a couple of days after Brexit, and was entitled:  The People have spoken, the bastards - lessons for Roboticists from Brexit & GMOs - it is available here



‘Exploring the potential opportunities and limitations of involving stakeholders in our work in a more systematic way has been very valuable.  This project has acted as a catalyst for us to begin to define our overall approach and explore how it may work in practise in three different initiatives'.  Prof Tony Prescott, Director, Sheffield Robotics