Open robot manufacturers & law: immunity recommended

"But open robots also present the potential for inestimable legal liability, which may lead entrepreneurs and investors to abandon open robots in favor of products with more limited functionality . . . therefore recommends a selective immunity for manufacturers of open robotic platforms for what end users do with these platforms, akin to the immunity enjoyed under federal law by firearms manufacturers."

Source: Open Robotics by Ryan Calo, a senior research fellow at Stanford Law School and expert in robots and the law. Also see, “When Good Robots Do Bad Things: Responsibility and Liability in an Era of Personal and Service Robotics”

Views: 399

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on January 23, 2011 at 7:55pm


An interesting concept. I suspect that amature UAVs will eventually become weapons of choice for home grown terrorists.



Comment by Jeff on January 23, 2011 at 8:50pm

Who says someone couldn't make an amateur UAV as a weapon as it is now?  I do see your point though and do sorta agree if they were accessible as RTF UAV's there could be problems.

- Jeff

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on January 23, 2011 at 9:30pm
There was a good Robots Podcast with him on this last year. It's here. All very theoretical, as you might expect from a law professor, but the distinction between general purpose and special purpose robotics is useful.
Comment by Duane Brocious on January 23, 2011 at 9:44pm

Manufacturers ar generaly imune from the inappropriate "use" of their products, otherwise every auto company in the world would do nothing but pay lawsuits. Defects and negligence are still their responsibility. This recommended legal status backfired in the case of firearms as it is difficult to go ater fiearms mfgs for defects and negligence (RE: Remington 700).


The Japanese used balloon bombs which caused the only casualties of WWI in the continental US during WWII. Why didn't their families and the US Govt sue the Montgolfier family? Because they couldn't. The inventor is not responsible for the end user.

Comment by bGatti on January 23, 2011 at 10:46pm
In a country that arrests people for videotaping their own arrest, good luck predicting who the Police will arrest next.

Comment by John Arne Birkeland on January 24, 2011 at 2:12am
Thomas: I have to disagree with your statement about weapons of choice. If I try to think as an terrorist, I would look for an easy solution with little chance of failure and maximum damage potential. Exactly what UAV is not. You would be hard pressed to find a more failure prone, low yield solution with high technical requirements.
Comment by Gerry Lichter on January 24, 2011 at 2:57am

John Arne Birkeland, you make a good point.


It's not like major militarys are stingey with their explosives. Cruise missles are more about reduced collateral damage than they are about increased probability of success. Otherwise: they could just use a nuke for near 100% success rate.


Reducing collateral damage isn't really terrorist modus operandi.

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on January 24, 2011 at 5:32am


The Maja that I have just finished can carry close to 2kg on a one way trip. If that 2kg was C4, it could cause quite a bit of damage. Also, when properly built and tested most amature UAVs can be reliable enough for a short one way trip.

Just a thought.



Comment by Duane Brocious on January 24, 2011 at 5:47am

Much easier to fill a van with drums of fertilizer and diesel fuel.

Even the assasination of our presidents were with pretty lousy guns for their time.

Even an atomic bomb is pretty low tech, it is the radioactive material that is tough to get.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on January 24, 2011 at 5:52am
Guys lets rather not be heading down this road with this thread, otherwise we will have to close it. We all know the implications.


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