Europe Tries to Get Ahead on Robot Rules and Taxes

In the News
March 22, 2017

The European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs has proposed the creation of regulations for the legal status and safe operation of autonomous machines.

Any new robot rules could affect the development and adoption of robotics and artificial intelligence, not just in Europe, but worldwide.

In this two-part article, we’ll explore key issues around the potential European Union legislation. Let’s start by examining the current market conditions and the impetus for starting now. Part 2 will discuss possible solutions and the impact of these efforts.

Business Takeaways:

  • Robotics stakeholders should begin working immediately on an international legal framework because such efforts will take time.
  • For instance, autonomous vehicles are already being tested, so the risks associated with them need to be addressed.
  • New robot rules should address current and future use cases and avoid restraints on innovation.

The EU to create a new robotics agency

In an attempt to head off the development of different laws within each member country, the legal affairs committee has recommended that the EU create an agency to focus on all of the issues around robotics and AI.

The intent is to generate a uniform set of guidelines to help the technology and the market develop in the coming years. They would provide for compliance, liability, and the social impacts of autonomy.

The new agency would have responsibility for technical, ethical, and regulatory issues. The committee started with the definition of “smart” robots. However, its most immediate concern appears to be the regulation of autonomous vehicles, since several companies headquartered in the EU are currently working on self-driving cars.

The agency would have multiple domains:

  • Technical guidelines for supervisory systems and controls
  • Ethical guidelines relating to the interaction between humans and machines
  • Regulatory rules for safe operations

Defining “smart” and “safe”

There are already many global definitions for “smart machines” such as industrial robots and autonomous vehicles.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has defined five levels of...

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