Robot law is an emerging specialist field of law and robot lawyers focus on the laws of robots or robotics. A legal framework is required to deal with this new type of person. First, we had natural persons (or humans), then we have legal persons (like companies or trusts). Now we have new kind of person – the robot (or robot person).

We have laws that apply to people and laws (like the Companies Act) that recognise that companies are separate legal entities that can act on their own. We need that same legal framework for robots (maybe called the Robots Act).

  • The first human has been killed by a robot, so we need law that determines who is responsible for what robots do.
  • A robot can also act and enter into contracts.
  • It is estimated that robots will eliminate more than 5 million jobs.

“I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight” Elon Musk

Many people (like Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Professor Stephen Hawking) have expressed their concern that intelligent robots could be a threat to humans.

Robot law now is the equivalent of where company law was when it started hundreds of years ago. Exciting legal times.

What does Robot Law relate to?

Robot law relates to:

  1. robots or robotics
  2. drones and surveillance robots
  3. driverless cars, automated vehicles or intelligent cars
  4. artificial intelligence
  5. virtual reality or augmented reality

What are Robot Law Issues?

Robot law includes all laws, rules, codes or standards that apply. There are both ethical and legal questions:

  • Legal status of robots.
  • Liability for defective robots, product liability and the damages they cause.
  • Protecting intellectual property (or innovations) about robots and the intellectual property they create.
  • The legal aspects of the research for and develop of robots, like the contracts required.
  • Do robots invade people’s privacy?
  • The protection of the personal information robots process.
  • Managing the contracts robots conclude.
  • Do robots have rights? Do robots have a right to privacy or dignity?
  • Use of robots in specific sectors, like the health, manufacturing (smart factories), and financial services sectors.
  • Legal risk management related to robots.

If you would like a comparative outline of robot law in different countries, we have contributed to a book on the subject, which you can buy.

This video will give you an insight into a world that includes intelligent robots. It is set in Johannesburg, South Africa, which makes it very real for South Africans.