The Utilibot Project: An Autonomous Mobile Robot Based on Utilitarianism

Christopher Cloos

As autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) begin living in the home, performing service tasks and assisting with daily activities, their actions will have profound ethical implications. Consequently, AMRs need to be outfitted with the ability to act morally with regard to human life and safety. Yet, in the area of robotics where morality is a relevant field of endeavor (i.e. human-robot interaction) the sub-discipline of morality does not exist. In response, the Utilibot project seeks to provide a point of initiation for the implementation of ethics in an AMR. The Utilibot is a decision-theoretic AMR guided by the utilitarian notion of the maximization of human well-being. The core ethical decision-making capacity of the Utilibot consists of two dynamic Bayesian networks that model human and environmental health, a dynamic decision network that accounts for decisions and utilities, and a Markov decision process (MDP) that decomposes the planning problem to solve for the optimal course of action to maximize human safety and well-being.


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