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Towards an ethical robot: Internal models, consequences and ethical action selection

Winfield, Alan F.T.; Blum, Christian; Liu, Wenguo


Christian Blum

Wenguo Liu


Michael Mistry

Ale� Leonardis

Mark Witkowski


If robots are to be trusted, especially when interacting with humans, then they will need to be more than just safe. This paper explores the potential of robots capable of modelling and therefore predicting the consequences of both their own actions, and the actions of other dynamic actors in their environment. We show that with the addition of an 'ethical' action selection mechanism a robot can sometimes choose actions that compromise its own safety in order to prevent a second robot from coming to harm. An implementation with e-puck mobile robots provides a proof of principle by showing that a simple robot can, in real time, model and act upon the consequences of both its own and another robot's actions. We argue that this work moves us towards robots that are ethical, as well as safe. © 2014 Springer International Publishing.


Winfield, A. F., Blum, C., & Liu, W. (2014). Towards an ethical robot: Internal models, consequences and ethical action selection. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, 8717 LNAI, 85-96.

Journal Article Type Conference Paper
Conference Name Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems (TAROS) 2014
Conference Location Birmingham, UK
Start Date Sep 1, 2014
End Date Sep 3, 2014
Publication Date Jan 1, 2014
Journal Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Print ISSN 0302-9743
Electronic ISSN 1611-3349
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8717 LNAI
Pages 85-96
Series Title Lecture Notes in Computer Science
Series Number 8717
Book Title Advances in Autonomous Robotics Systems
Keywords human-robot interaction, safety, internal model, machine ethics
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : Advances in Autonomous Robotics Systems: Proceedings of the 15th Annual Conference, TAROS 2014