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EU ministers want to enforce laws on machines to guarantee safety

Thursday, February 16, 2017 16:04
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With the robotics industry rapidly growing, MEPs have warned that rules are needed to ‘guarantee a standard level of safety and security.’

In a resolution voted today, MEPs are asking the EU Commission to enforce regulatory standards for robotics, and have stressed that the key issue lies with self-driving cars.

They have suggested that a European agency for robotics and artificial intelligence should be set up, to supply public authorities with technical, ethical and regulatory expertise.

They also asked for specific legal status for robots as ‘electronic persons’ in the long run, in order to establish who is liable if they cause damage.

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MEPs have warned that robots need to be fitted with ‘kill switches’ to prevent a Terminator-style uprising against humans

Regulatory standards for robots are already being planned in several countries, including the US.

And MEPs think that the EU should be taking the lead in setting these standards, so as not to be forced to follow those set by third countries.

Mady Delvaux, a Socialist MEP from Luxembourg, led the campaign and warned that Europe is passively standing by as robots take an increasingly powerful role that will turn even stronger with the emergence of driverless cars.

A statement published by the European Parliament said: ‘MEPs stress that draft legislation is urgently needed to clarify liability issues, especially for self-driving cars.’

Auto builders want to see robotic cars on the roads by 2020, but difficult questions remain on who would be legally liable in the case of a car crash.

‘If all decisions of a machine are no longer directly attributable to the actions of a person, it must be clarified who is liable if something goes wrong,’ said Greens MEP Julia Reda, who backed the report.

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