EU-wide rules are needed to enforce ethical standards and establish liability for accidents involving driverless cars, members of the European Parliament declared in a vote on the matter on Thursday.

As a result, MEPs have now asked the EU Commission to propose new EU laws on robotics and artificial intelligence in order to fully exploit their economic potential and guarantee a standard level of safety and security.

MEPs specifically highlighted the need to clarify liability issues around self-driving cars as urgent, and called for a mandatory insurance scheme and a supplementary fund to ensure that victims of accidents involving driverless cars are fully compensated.

They also asked the Commission to consider creating a specific legal status for robots in the long run, in order to establish who is liable if they cause damage.


MEPs also noted that the growing use of robotics also raised ethical issues, and cited privacy and safety as an example. As a result, the Parliament proposed a voluntary ethical code of conduct on robotics for researchers and designers to ensure that they operate in accordance with legal and ethical standards and that robot design and use respect human dignity.

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Finally, the Commission was requested to consider creating a European agency for robotics and artificial intelligence, to supply public authorities with technical, ethical and regulatory expertise.

Although the resolution passed with 396 votes to 123, the Commission will not be obliged to follow the Parliament’s recommendations. It must state its reasons for refusal, however.