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Contact: Kathryn Ryan, 914-740-2100, kryan@liebertpub.com
Designing Soft Robots: Ethics-Based Guidelines for Human-Robot Interactions

New Rochelle, NY, July 25, 2017—Soft-bodied robots offer the possibility for social engagement, and novel tactile human-robot interactions that require careful consideration of the potential for misplaced emotional attachments and personally and socially destructive behavior by users. The ethical challenges related to human-robot interactions and how these should contribute to soft robotics design in the context of social interaction are discussed in a compelling new article in Soft Robotics, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Soft Robotics website until August 25, 2017.

Thomas Arnold and Matthias Scheutz, Tufts University, Medford, MA coauthored the article entitled “The Tactile Ethics of Soft Robotics: Designing Wisely for Human-Robot Interaction.” They examine a broad range of topics, including the ability of soft robots to touch and interact with their environments, the potential risks of humans forming one-directional emotional bonds with robots, and what social robots should be intended to accomplish. To illustrate some of the ethical challenges involved in soft robotics and the possible risks for society, the authors discuss the example of sex robots.

Drs. Arnold and Scheutz offer three general guidelines for how soft robotic technology should be developed within the context of social human-robot interaction. They encourage the soft robotics community to address these ethical challenges as a way of improving the quality and effectiveness of human-robot interactions.

"Soft robot technology will soon bring us machines that interact directly with humans; it is essential that we start to think about the impact these might have on social situations. This paper outlines some of the major issues and provides excellent guidelines for a serious discussion of human-robot relationships,” says Editor-in-Chief Barry A. Trimmer, PhD, who directs the Neuromechanics and Biomimetic Devices Laboratory at Tufts University (Medford, MA).

About the Journal
Soft Robotics, a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly online with Open Access options and in print, combines advances in biomedical engineering, biomechanics, mathematical modeling, biopolymer chemistry, computer science, and tissue engineering to present new approaches to the creation of robotic technology and devices that can undergo dramatic changes in shape and size in order to adapt to various environments. Led by Editor-in-Chief Barry A. Trimmer, PhD, and a distinguished team of Associate Editors, the Journal provides the latest research and developments on topics such as soft material creation, characterization, and modeling; flexible and degradable electronics; soft actuators and sensors; control and simulation of highly deformable structures; biomechanics and control of soft animals and tissues; biohybrid devices and living machines; and design and fabrication of conformable machines. Tables of content and a sample issue can be viewed on the Soft Robotics website.

About the Publisher
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science, technology, and biomedical research, including 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing and Tissue Engineering. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry’s most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm’s 80 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available on the Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers website.