Ethics in developing robot products
Robot application domains have increased significantly over recent years into service and medical sectors and new innovations continue to emerge with robotics being seen as a major new disruptive technology that will be applicable to virtually all sectors of society. The new robots being developed involve a variety of human-robot interaction and this has led to the development of new safety regulations on how the new situations shall be addressed internationally to prevent harm. Many of the new use case scenarios are also raising concerns which are more “soft” in nature; they include ethics, legal and other societal issues. The presentation will cover these “softer” issues relating to robotics and the need to ensure that these be addressed. The case is made to extend the existing regulatory framework to include ethics and societal issues in the development of new international robot products.
Professor Gurvinder S. Virk (BSc, PhD, DIC, FIET, FCIBSE, CEng, CMath, FIMA, MIEEE). Prof Virk is Technical Director at InnotecUK Limited in with responsibility to lead R&D projects and product development for realising inspection robots for hazardous applications; in addition he is Adjunct Professor at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden and at IIT Ropar India. He holds a PhD in Control theory from Imperial College, University of London, UK and his current interests are in commercialisation of wearable exoskeleton robots for health and wellbeing, medical robots for rehabilitation, active and assistive living applications, robot safety standardisation, robot modularity and inter-operability, social robotics and robot ethics. He gained valuable experience in strategic planning and people management through several academic leadership roles which he has held in UK (Universities of Bradford, Portsmouth and Leeds), New Zealand (Massey University) and Sweden (University of Gävle) as well as visiting Professor positions in China (Zhejiang University), France (Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris), and Germany (Fachochschule Südwestfalen, Soest). He has been able to gather the best practice from these organisations and adopt it in his detailed activities to great effect. He is also Trustee and Treasurer of the UK registered charity CLAWAR whose mission is to advance robotics for the public benefit (see www.clawar.org).
He has extensive experience of project management and leading international R&D and standardisation projects. He has held several grants from national and European sources (total value ≈€20m), as well as industry. He has produced over 350 papers in these areas and 14 books, 16 PhDs successfully completed and currently supervising 3 PhD students. Prof Virk is also a key actor in robot standardisation and is currently Convenor of several international robot standardisation groups, namely:
- ISO TC299/SG1 Gaps and structure
- ISO TC299/WG2 Personal care robot safety, 2006-2016
- IEC TC62/SC62A & ISO TC299/ JWG9 Medical electrical equipment and systems using robotic technology (medical robots)
- ISO TC299/WG6 Modularity for service robots
These groups are developing important standards for new emerging robots.
He is Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (FIET), Fellow of the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (FCIBSE), Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (FIMA) as well as being Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He is a Chartered Engineer and a Chartered Mathematician. He has been awarded, the Freedom of the City of London for his work in promoting Information Technology.