Regulate Frankenstein: the European Parliament calls for new rules for robots

When a parliamentary report cites Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in its recitals and proposes new regulation for robots with artificial intelligence (“AI”), one cannot be sure whether the 19th or the 21st century has inspired the legislator. Last week, the European Parliament took a step to introduce new regulation of robots in Europe. Declaring that the EU needs to “take the lead” in this area, the Parliament endorsed a Report that asks the European Commission to propose rules on robotics and artificial intelligence, in order to fully exploit their economic potential and to guarantee a standard level of safety and security. The Report address various kinds of robots, amongst others autonomous vehicles, care robots, medical robots, or drones.

This follows an earlier report published in May 2016 on Civil Law Rules on Robotics with proposals on the regulation of the robotics industry at an EU level. Such regulation was argued necessary in order to ensure that the EU and its Member States maintained control over the regulatory standards at which the industry operated in the EU, as well as to ensure certainty for enterprises planning to develop their businesses therein. The parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs released a preliminary study on the impact of robotics on civil law.

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