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The European Approach towards Implementing Civil Law for Robotics
The European region is full of success stories in Robotics applications. The prominence of this technology has brought the long-standing topic of having a civil law on robotics in the limelight once again. What is the current status?
FREMONT, CA: Considering critical success for robotics in the European region, industrial robotics has lately found immense success and continues to remain the backbone of the ongoing automation. Also, the agriculture industry has been deriving several advantages through the deployment of professional service robots. Besides, robotics has been permeating almost all sectors in the region.
It is beyond doubt that robotics is all set to be the key driving technology underlining an entirely new generation of cognitive artefacts and totally autonomous vehicles.
While the technology continues to gain momentum across sectors, what is most remarkable about the contemporary robotics arena is its increased applicability in even non-conventional sectors.
The European region has several existing laws for machines, which precisely say how, when, and where machines should be utilized. However, these machine-specific laws do not cover robots. In other words, these rules won’t apply to machines which have been bestowed with the power of artificial intelligence (AI). Relying on this AI, robots will be able to make their own decisions, react to different scenarios, and move as per requirements. Also, the information contained in them can be hacked as well. In other words, the robotics laws should be devised in a special manner and require a unique approach.
All these aspects show the need for robotics laws to be highly precise. There has to be legal regulation on each and every aspect of the technology and the law-makers should be able to decide not only the present status of robotics but also what they can do in the future. The future-oriented thinking turns critical in view of the recent advancements taking place in the sector. In the imminent years, robots are going to permeate several other aspects and are expected to go through a considerable evolution from the present days.
The Initial steps
Nowadays, the development of civil robot law has been significant now more than ever. Towards the end of March in 2016, a draft report was submitted by a Committee on Legal Affairs. This report mainly contained recommendations for the Commission on Civil Law Rules on Robotics. Following this in the beginning of 2017, a resolution with respect to civil law rules pertaining to robotics was adopted by the European Parliament. These were the significant steps towards bringing in a civil law into the Robotics sector prevailing in the European region.
What does the report contain?
This 23-page long report was the first step. The recommendations in the list were like an official request for enacting civil law on the technology.
The report specified the need to create a common and formal definition for a multitude of things such as autonomous smart robots and autonomous systems. It also stressed the need for creating a standard for quality in the manufacturing process. The other highlight of the report was developing rules for liability regarding robots. Considering the way robotics was evolving across the European region, demand for specific and clear laws on the way robotics has to be studied, analyzed, and utilized was also an important aspect of the report.
With an aim to consider and analyze the robotics industry's current regularization requirements and status, the report contains a mention of the much popular ‘Laws of Robotics’ by Isaac Asimov. Asimov was an American author, and these laws were more or less formed as literary advice about half a century ago. However, these laws formed by him had gained huge popularity and much has been discussed about it. As per the creators of the report, these laws can bind developers and users of robotics until and unless they are applied to robots themselves.
The Current Status
Currently, robotics is governed by the existing related laws of a nation belonging to the European region. For instance, industrial robots will fall under the rules and regulations, including the machinery directive. Discussions are taking place around how robotics should be employed, especially with respect to drones. The available European harmonised standards with respect to robotics are based on ISO specifications ensuring worldwide accessibility while innovative standardization activities are being implemented for robots.
As far as manufacturers are concerned, they are currently following existing CEN and ISO standards on robotics equipment. In other words, there have been several harmonized standards implemented by the European Commission. However, the lack of stringent civil laws for robotics has now become evident more than ever.
However, the available legislation standards are not enough to deal with the challenges imposed by the ongoing prevalence and upcoming innovation in robotics sector across the European region. It can also be said that presently, AI including robotics find it as an obstacle on their way to reach the full potential that there is an absence of precise regulatory framework regarding insurance and liability with respect to robotics and its various aspects.
It is necessary to remember that whether it is AI or robotics, both are multi-faceted and wide domains, crossing several legal disciplines. For providing the citizens of European Union with a sufficient EU regulatory framework with respect to AI and robotics, and also to promote the rise of these technologies in the European region first, and then globally, a coordinated legal procedure is critical.
In a nutshell, clear-cut legal rules should be incorporated for the ethical, technical, and regulatory expertise needed to tackle the challenges arising due to the emergence of robotics across Europe.
The entire world is interested to know what the European region is implementing as the civil robotics law. Many countries are likely to use the civil law envisaged by the European region to use it as the framework for their own rules.