Regulatory Framework for a Cloud-Based Architecture that Supports a Lego® Play-Based Robot-Mediated Therapy for Children with ASD

1 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2016

Date Written: April 1, 2016


While there is a growing body of research on robotics and autism, addressing minutely the involved legal principles in robot-assisted therapy for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a new idea. Previous research focused on the benefits of this therapy and its ethical issues (e.g. acceptance, replacement, trust, etc.); however there has been no great effort towards tackling its legal boundaries, probably because we are still in a brainstorming phase. In fact, apart from the privacy and safety concerns, this robotic system poses some new challenges. Particularly, cognitive harm and prospective liability scenarios need to be addressed; but also other robot-alive considerations, e.g. deception, dependency, exclusion, decrease on human-human interaction; that need careful and further consideration. This poster presents some tentative interdisciplinary guidelines for a future regulatory framework for play-based cloud-robotics-mediated therapies. The main idea is to maximize the benefits of this kind of therapies and minimize their potential risks.

The main objective of the poster is to provide some regulatory guidelines for a future framework for play-based cloud-robotics-mediated robotic therapies for children with ASD. These guidelines take into account several aspects not yet addressed by lawmakers, e.g. the dependency on the robot therapy (either because of the addiction that causes or the ‘bond concept’), the deceit of the therapy (either because of the robot-alive motion, or the use of WoZ control), the concrete role of the robot (the concept of social mediation, the human-robot relationship), the use of cloud robotics (for learning purposes, process of information, robot-robot communication) or future uses of big data (diagnose of autism, post-monitoring of personal data). Although this is still preliminary, the basic idea is to add a legal dimension to the safety requirements that international standards have provided so far. Indeed, standards solely concern harm-related and technological-based safety requirements, whereas other important legal questions are not taken into account. This framework aims therefore at taking into consideration all the above-mentioned boundaries to promote a more safe therapeutic technology.

For our analysis, we followed the newest impact assessment methodology, binding for privacy matters after the §33 of the new General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union but also used in surveillance contexts; in particular, we will adopt the Care Robot Impact Assessment (CRIA), a recent and innovative methodology. This bottom-up approach identifies risks that care robots can pose to citizens. It takes into account first the context where the robot will be deployed and second the type of robot. Subsequently, risk scenarios are devised according to interdisciplinary principles, from the legal community and from the HRI community/technical perspective. Then, interdisciplinary solutions are provided.

Keywords: Robot Therapy, ASD Research, Regulatory Framework, Ethical Issues, Law and Robotics.

JEL Classification: K1, K3, K32, K39

Suggested Citation

Fosch Villaronga, Eduard and Albo-Canals, Jordi, Regulatory Framework for a Cloud-Based Architecture that Supports a Lego® Play-Based Robot-Mediated Therapy for Children with ASD (April 1, 2016). Available at SSRN:

Eduard Fosch Villaronga (Contact Author)

Leiden University ( email )

Steenschuur 25
Leiden, 2311 ES

Jordi Albo-Canals

La Salle ( email )

Pedralbes 71
Barcelona, Barcelona 08035

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