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The project will build on the complementary strengths among Robotics and AI researchers at Heriot-Watt University (HWU) and experts in autonomous agents and machine ethics at University College Dublin (UCD), to investigate the requirements, the feasibility, and the potential of ethical machines methods in the context of Robotics for Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) applications.

Robots that live together with humans must not only master the mechanical and computational challenges of performing human-like tasks, but also support, provide companionship and cooperate with humans. In this context, it is essential that we are able to trust that the robots will act in an ethically responsible manner (allowing the human privacy, while balancing it with the concerns of administering medication on time or holding conversations with patients that are not patronizing, and yet patient). While these concerns are intuitively known (or explainable) to human beings, it is extremely difficult to know if these are even expressible in computational media. What kind of ethical behaviour would be of most importance? Can we express them in algorithmic form? Can they be implemented into a robot? How would we validate a claimed ‘ethical robot’ are the principal questions that this project seeks to ask. Answers to these questions would directly impact how assistive technologies are accepted and deployed in society, and how confident we may be, of them being able to provide better support to the differently-abled and to the millions of unpaid carers in our countries.

Specific objectives over the next two years include:

This project is funded through ‘International Exchanges’ programme of The Royal Society.

  1. International Exchanges - The Royal Society


Dr Mauro Dragone
Assistant Professor
Dr Marta Vallejo
Research Fellow
Ronnie Smith
PhD Student
Scott MacLeod
PhD Student