New Monash-led research to explore policy design for robots in Australian public spaces

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Researchers from Monash University have received a $608,385 grant from the Australian Research Council to explore how policy design can manage the growing presence of robots in Australian public places. 

The project will involve design workshops where researchers, citizens, and policy designers can collaborate to develop new means of guiding how robots affect public spaces. 

Findings from the project are expected to inform Australian governments and regulators in terms of better anticipating the effects of wider use of robots, planning policies to encourage good outcomes for all, and providing important insights for Australia’s robot industry. 

Michael Mintrom, professor of public policy and director of better governance and policy at Monash University, said robots are already being widely introduced in many cities around the world but only little is known about the attitudes of urban residents towards robots in public spaces. 

“A significant knowledge gap exists concerning the broader social impacts of the growing presence of robots in public spaces. We need new policy design approaches that can account for the disruptive potential of robots in public spaces while enabling their potential benefits,” Mintrom said. 

In a media release, Monash University said researchers will hold annual symposia to share and test emerging findings. The project is expected to test emerging findings, with the project culminating in an international symposium to promote project findings to academic and industry representatives. 

Mintrom is among the project’s leads, which also include Monash University Professor Lisa Grocott, Association Professor Shanti Sumartojo, and Professor Sally Wyatt from Maastricht University in the Netherlands.