Advancements within the robotics industry pose regulatory questions

Using components readily available from the internet, more and more small-scale creators are producing sophisticated robotics equipment.

This easier access to market enables start-ups to bring more niche and more creative functionalities to the public, in turn making the robotics field more diverse and competitive. This brings with it difficulties in regulation.

Of course, internationally-agreed codes exist to define what a true collaborative robot is, ISO standards for industrial robots for instance, and the associated safety requirements. Many startups are creating products and bypassing these specifications, which may require an overhaul into how the industry is monitored and regulated.

One example is San Francisco-based start-up UFactory, who crowdfunded their personal robotic assistant, uArm Swift, through the Indiegogo website.

The uArm Swift is a desktop robot that can perform tasks including picking and placing, 3D printing, laser engraving, writing and painting, having received $83k worth of backing via Indiegogo following its $10k target.

Other tech projects currently seeking funding through the crowdfunding site include a racing drone, a smart-lock and a natural lighting robot.

Increasing autonomy and AI within robotic devices poses a further and more complex question regarding regulations; some have questioned whether fully-autonomous robots will require their own legal status should they cause damage to persons, animals or property. Current legislation attributes blame to the manufacturer, owner or user of the robot, however this becomes muddied when AI may be operating under its own ‘will’.

While it is clear we are moving towards a society where robots are more common and more advanced for business and personal use, the regulations are lagging behind the technology.

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