[robotics-worldwide] [Meetings] Call for participation - Mini-symposium on military robotics - Wed. Nov. 6th

Ludovic Righetti ludovic.righetti at tuebingen.mpg.de
Sat Nov 2 08:34:37 PDT 2013

Dear colleagues,

It is our pleasure to invite you to join us to the following symposium 
next week on military robotics just a 5min walk from IROS venue (the 
symposium is not part of IROS).

Mini-symposium on Military Applications of Robotics

*Location and time*

TOC Ariake, Room WG201 (5 min walk from IROS venue, see map at 
19:30 - 21:30, November 6th (Wednesday), 2013


- Are robotic weapons just like any other weapon ?
- Should robotic weapons be banned or encouraged ?
- What stance and actions should we take as robotics researchers ?

Military robots are no more restricted to science-fiction novels or to a 
distant future but have become a concrete reality. Autonomous aerial 
robots – or drones – are for instance currently deployed, mainly by the 
US Army, in several countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, or 
Somalia. According to independent investigations, such robots have 
caused several thousands of casualties, including a non-negligible 
number of civilians. As a result, military applications of robotics are 
focusing a large attention from the civil society, prompting field 
researches on the consequences of drone strikes, as well as legal and 
ethical debates about this new military technology. The case is 
considered so serious that the UN has recently decided to set up 
dedicated investigations into US drone strikes.

At the same time, within the academic robotics research community, there 
are a considerable number of programs that are motivated by military 
applications and/or funded by military agencies. Many of the advances 
obtained in such programs have been or will be used in building 
operational military robots. It is thus evident that robotics 
researchers, who stand at the very beginning of the chain that 
eventually leads to operational military robots, must take an important 
part in the societal debate mentioned above.

The goal of this mini-symposium is to stimulate the debate on military 
applications within the robotics community. To this end, we shall 
briefly present facts and data about the current research and 
deployments of military robots (technologies, casualties, economic and 
psychological consequences, etc.), as well as elements of legal and 
ethical reflections about military robots. The major part of the 
symposium will then be dedicated to the open discussion among the 

*Short introductions*

- Survey of recent reports on the use and consequences of military 
robots (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Stanford and NYU law 
schools, etc.) (by LR)
- Elements of legal and ethical reflections about military robots (by QCP)


- Quang-Cuong Pham, Assistant Professor, NTU, Singapore (cuong.pham [at] 
- Ludovic Righetti, Group Leader, MPI, Germany (ludovic.righetti [at] 


- Address : TOC Ariake, Room WG 201, 3-5-7 Ariake, Koto-ku, Tokyo 
135-0063 (see map at http://www.normalesup.org/~pham/symposium/)
- Phone number : 080-4772-3207

Symposium Flyer: http://www.normalesup.org/~pham/symposium/flyer.pdf

Ludovic Righetti, Dr. Sc.

Autonomous Motion Department,
Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, Germany

CLMC Lab, University of Southern California, USA

More information about the robotics-worldwide mailing list