Assistive robotics: Research challenges and ethics education initiatives

Journal Article (2019)


DILEMATA: International Journal of Applied Ethics





Doc link


Download the digital copy of the doc pdf document


Assistive robotics is a fast growing field aimed at helping healthcarers in hospitals, rehabilitation centers and nursery homes, as well as empowering people with reduced mobility at home, so that they can autonomously fulfill their daily living activities. The need to function in dynamic human-centered environments poses new research challenges: robotic assistants need to have friendly interfaces, be highly adaptable and customizable, very compliant and intrinsically safe to people, as well as able to handle deformable materials.
Besides technical challenges, assistive robotics raises also ethical defies, which have led to the emergence of a new discipline: Roboethics. Several institutions are developing regulations and standards, and many ethics education initiatives include contents on human-robot interaction and human dignity in assistive situations.
In this paper, the state of the art in assistive robotics is briefly reviewed, and educational materials from a university course on Ethics in Social Robotics and AI focusing on the assistive context are presented.


artificial intelligence, robots, social aspects of automation.

Author keywords

Assistive robotics, Machine learning, Roboethics, Ethics education, Science fiction

Scientific reference

C. Torras. Assistive robotics: Research challenges and ethics education initiatives. DILEMATA: International Journal of Applied Ethics, 30: 63-77, 2019.