More on Robotics

Faculty Director Ryan Calo Testifies Before German Parliament

On June 22, 2016 C0-Director Calo testified before the German Parliament, the Bundestag. He answered questions as part of a hearing before the Committee on the Digital Agenda on “The Effects of Robotics on Economics, Labour and Society. He answered questions about the application of robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence for economic growth; and identified a number of issues regulatory issues legislators will face. Read more here.

Guest Post: Robot Operator License: Educating Teleoperated Robot Users to Increase Public Safety

Sarah Hubbard, a student Research Assistant with the Lab, and Hannah Misenar just recently completed their Information School Capstone on a concept they call the “Robot Operator License”. After being exposed to a variety of tech policy issues with emerging technologies through the Lab, Sarah was interested in exploring the challenges and opportunities with the integration of teleoperated robots into society. Below is a description of their project.

Robot Operator License: Educating Teleoperated Robot Users to Increase Public Safety

by Sarah Hubbard and Hannah Misenar


Following the path of Moore’s Law, teleoperated robots are becoming more accessible and ubiquitous in the everyday consumers life — forever changing the way we work and interact with the world around us. In order to maintain public safety in a society cohabited by humans and machines, the Robot Operator License ensures that users have completed training and received a license to operate their robot. This educational course provides critical information and interactive simulations in an effort to smoothly transition this technology into the modern world.

Developed in partnership with the UW CSE Human-Centered Robotics Lab, the Robot Operator License is designed for the Beam+ telepresence robot, which serves as a proof-of­-concept and demonstrates a need for this type of operational education. This course aims to tackle the policy challenges and threats to public safety due to the use of teleoperated robots by the everyday individual.

View the project video here. Visit the Robot Operator License online course here.  


Artificial Intelligence: Law and Policy

On Tuesday, May 24, the Lab and the UW School of Law co-hosted the first of four White House public workshops on artificial intelligence. Deputy CTO Ed Felton and other members of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy spoke on panels and were in attendance for the workshop. Other speakers included Lab Co-Director Ryan Calo, Oren Etzioni, Kellye Testy, R. David Edelman, Pedro Domingos, Deirdre Mulligan, Kate Crawford, Jack Balkin, and Camille Fischer.

The event was covered by The New York Times, MIT Technology Review, and The Seattle Times.

More information about The White House workshop series on the risks and benefits of artificial intelligence can be found here.

Tech Policy Primer Videos

Primer Videos for Concepts in Tech & Law


What is a bot?

What is Product Liability?

What is Robot?


What is Machine Learning?

What is an Algorithm?

What is Administrative Law?


To Make a Robot Secure: An Experimental Analysis of Cyber Security Threats Against Teleoperated Surgical Robots

Teleoperated robots are playing an increasingly important role in military actions and medical services. In the future, remotely operated surgical robots will likely be used in more scenarios such as battlefields and emergency response. But rapidly growing applications of teleoperated surgery raise the question; what if the computer systems for these robots are attacked, taken over and even turned into weapons? Our work seeks to answer this question by systematically analyzing possible cyber security attacks against Raven II, an advanced teleoperated robotic surgery system. We identify a slew of possible cyber security threats, and experimentally evaluate their scopes and impacts. We demonstrate the ability to maliciously control a wide range of robots functions, and even to completely ignore or override command inputs from the surgeon. We further find that it is possible to abuse the robot’s existing emergency stop (E-stop) mechanism to execute efficient (single packet) attacks. We then consider steps to mitigate these identified attacks, and experimentally evaluate the feasibility of applying the existing security solutions against these threats. The broader goal of our paper, however, is to raise awareness and increase understanding of these emerging threats. We anticipate that the majority of attacks against telerobotic surgery will also be relevant to other teleoperated robotic and co-robotic systems.