Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is working on a new set of safety guidelines for next-generation robots. This set of regulations would constitute a first attempt at a formal version of the first of Asimov's science-fictional Laws of Robotics, or at least the portion that states that humans shall not be harmed by robots.
The first law of robotics, as set forth in 1940 by writer Isaac Asimov, states:
A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
Japan's ministry guidelines will require manufacturers to install a sufficient number of sensors to keep robots from running into people. Lighter or softer materials will be preferred, to further prevent injury.
Emergency shut-off buttons will also be required. Science fiction heroes in stories and movies have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to find the shut-off button for various out-of-control machines, so I hope that these buttons will be prominently placed for easy access by concerned humans.
People in Japan are particularly concerned about this problem, due to the accelerating efforts to create robots that will address the coming labor shortage in Japan's elder care industry .
Follow these links to read about some of the proposed healthcare and home use robots that could take advantage of the new guidelines:
Read about the Safety guidelines to be set for next-generation robots.
(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction.)