The Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament on Thursday approved a report calling for common EU rules for the fast-evolving field of robotics.
The report, presented by Mady Delvaux, a Luxembourgish member of the Parliament, looked at robotics-related issues such as liability, safety and changes in the labour market.
“A growing number of areas of our daily lives are increasingly affected by robotics. In order to address this reality and to ensure that robots are and will remain in the service of humans, we urgently need to create a robust European legal framework,” she said.
In the report, the lawmakers urged the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, to put forward rules to settle issues such as compliance with ethical standards and liability for accidents involving driverless cars.
The report suggested the EU to create a European agency for robotics and artificial intelligence to supply public authorities with technical, ethical and regulatory expertise.
Meanwhile, the lawmakers also proposed a voluntary ethical conduct code to regulate who would be accountable for the social, environmental and human health impacts of robotics and ensure that they operate in accordance with legal, safety and ethical standards.
Stressing that harmonised rules are especially urgently needed for self-driving cars, the members of the Parliament called for an obligatory insurance scheme and a fund to ensure victims would be fully compensated in case of accidents caused by driverless cars.
Furthermore, the report stressed that EU-wide rules are needed to fully exploit the economic potential of robotics and artificial intelligence and guarantee a standard level of safety and security.
Facing the increasing doubts that the development of robotics could result in big societal changes, including the creation and loss of jobs in certain fields, the report urged the EU regulators to follow these trends closely, including new employment models and the viability of the current tax and social system for robotics.
“Robots will not totally replace humans. There will be a cooperation between robots and humans and I imagine that everyone can learn to work together with a robot,” Delvaux said.
The EU needs to take the lead on regulatory standards, so as not to be forced to follow those set by third states, argued the report.
As the report has now been approved, a draft proposal is expected to be made by the European Commission and then put to vote at the Parliament, according to the EU’s legislative initiative procedure.