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There is tension in the digital economy between economic need for increased technological innovation and ways in which innovations can be developed responsibly to maximize trust and societal acceptability. The Responsible Innovation approach draws together academics, industry, civil society, policy makers and members of the public to create new agile processes for developing and managing technological innovation.

Responsible Robotics International aims to develop a new approach to responsible innovation (RI) in the context of trustworthy and secure technologies. The principle challenge is to embed responsible innovation into technology developers’ practices and to create positive cases of RI in action. This is particularly important in the international context where culturally nuanced approaches are required.

The project focuses on the domain of social robots, those which interact with people and make decisions about their actions. Because they make their own decisions in order to perform actions, we need to be able to recover what they did and why they did it, when things seem to go wrong. The development of an Ethical Black Box (EBB) through which a social robot would be able to explain its behaviour in simple and understandable ways. We are testing this in incident investigations as a social process in a variety of contexts. The development of the EBB is an example of Responsible Innovation (RI). We are developing an agile process which takes account of the views of a wide range of people in a fast-changing context, in order to have some influence over the trajectory of an innovation. We draw on this and an understanding of people’s lived rights and obligations to provide creative resources and methods for designers to develop responsible and accountable new technologies.

The Responsible Robotics project was featured in the AIBotics webinars as part of the showcase for the Asia-Pacific Assistive Robotics Association.