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We are pleased to invite submissions for We Robot 2020, the 9th annual robotics law, ethics and policy conference, to be held at the University of Ottawa, Canada, on April 2–4, 2020. Previously, the conference has been held at the University of Miami, the University of Washington, Stanford University, and Yale University.



(opens August 1, 2019)

We Robot 2020 welcomes diverse contributions from academics, practitioners, and other thinkers. We Robot fosters inclusive conversations between people conceptualizing, designing, building, and deploying robots, and those designing or influencing our sociotechnical reality. We strongly encourage submissions from both emerging and established researchers and people from non-traditional backgrounds. We emphasize that We Robot seeks submissions from a wide range of disciplines and encourages interdisciplinary authorship and collaborations between developers of robotics, AI, and related technologies, and researchers in the humanities, social sciences, ethics, and law and policy.

We Robot builds on a growing body of scholarship exploring how the increasing sophistication and autonomous decision-making capabilities of robots—and their widespread deployment everywhere from the home, to hospitals, to public spaces, to the battlefield—disrupts existing legal regimes and social institutions, or requires rethinking policy and governance issues.

We invite proposals for the following: papers; posters; and technical demonstrations or art installations.



We Robot is a single-track event, but we invite a range of paper submissions, including: technically-focused position papers or works-in-progress; and papers focused on policy, law, regulation, economics, or related fields in the humanities, social science and related studies. Because We Robot seeks to promote interdisciplinary work, we strongly encourage co-authored papers whose authors represent two or more domains of expertise.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • The impact of robotics and automation on social institutions, policy, governance and the law;
  • Smart cities and their impact on society and social institutions;
  • The shifting nature of mobility in an increasingly automated and connected mobility system;
  • Co-robotics in practice, be it assembly lines, small businesses, hospitals, or other contexts where robots and humans work side-by-side;
  • The ethical engineering of robotics and artificial intelligence;
  • Comparative international perspectives on the regulation of robotic technologies;
  • Assessment of what institutional configurations, if any, would best serve to integrate robotics into society responsibly;
  • Discussion of the relation between artificial intelligence and robotics research and/or regulation;
  • The impact of artificial intelligence on civil liberties, including sexuality, due process, equal protection, privacy, suffrage, and procreation;
  • Deployment of autonomous weapons in the military or law enforcement contexts;
  • Law and economic perspectives on robotics;
  • Regulatory and licensing issues raised by robots;
  • Robots in specific sectors, ranging from agriculture to underwater to the professions (law, medicine, accounting);
  • Issues of legal or moral responsibility, e.g., relating to autonomous robots or robots capable of exhibiting emergent behaviour;
  • Privacy and intellectual property issues uniquely relating to robotics.

Please note that this list is not meant to be exclusive or exhaustive. Instead, it suggests potential avenues for interdisciplinary inquiry.

We invite papers that describe techniques for addressing ethical, legal, or policy issues in the research, design, or deployment of robotics and artificial intelligence. However, technical papers should be accessible to an interdisciplinary audience. Authors should keep in mind the interdisciplinary nature of the peer-review committee, which means the committee will have a difficult time judging the quality of contributions in papers that are narrowly technical (i.e., that seek to make a contribution to a narrow technical field).

We encourage contributions that engage how law and policy should react to the development of robots—defined broadly to include artificial intelligence, and robotics, as well as related topics. The purpose of this conference is to continue to frame (and report on) research agendas relating to the deployment of robots in society, to inform policy-makers and other experts of the issues, and to help design legal rules, design practices and governance structures that will support responsible robotics innovation.


The submission portal will open on August 1, 2019, and proposals are due by October 7, 2019.

Proposals should include the title of the proposed paper, an abstract of maximum 500 words, and a list of up to 6 key references to help us understand how to situate your paper. Proposals that exceed the length limit will be rejected unread. Please also include the authors’ area(s) of expertise (e.g. law, philosophy), but in order to allow for blinded reviews do not include any names or biographical information. Please do not list institutional affiliations.

Full Papers

If your abstract is accepted, you must upload the full paper by February 29, 2020, according to the following guidelines: Paper length can vary. Past contributions have been as short as 4,000 words and as long as 50,000 words. Papers of less than 20,000 words are encouraged where possible, as We Robot is a single-track conference and we encourage all participants to engage fully with all papers. Formatting and references should be according to a recognized disciplinary standard.


At least one of the authors of each accepted paper should plan to be present at We Robot. We will waive conference fees, pay reasonable round-trip coach airfare, and provide two nights hotel accommodation for one author per paper.

Please note that We Robot authors do not present their papers (except for the occasional panel or lightning-round-format presentations). Instead, the paper will be briefly summarized by a discussant. We make all papers available one month before the conference so that the discussant—and all attendees—can read them. These presentations will be very brief (no more than 10 minutes) and will consist mostly of making a few points critiquing the author’s paper to kick off the conversation. Authors will then respond briefly (no more than 5 minutes). The rest of the session will consist of a group discussion with the discussant acting as a moderator.


We Robot’s poster session is designed to accommodate late-breaking and cutting-edge projects. This session is ideal for researchers to get feedback on a work-in-progress.


The submission portal will open on August 1, 2019, and a proposal for posters are due by February 14, 2020 (Extended Deadline). Submissions should include the title of the proposed poster, and an abstract of maximum 500 words.


A digital copy of selected posters will need to be provided by March 23, 2020. Authors will need to print and bring a hard copy to the conference.


At least one of the authors of each accepted poster should plan to be present the poster. We will waive all conference fees for one author of each accepted poster.

All paper submissions are submitted to a double-blind review. To maximize your chances of acceptance, please do not discuss the substance of your proposal with any program and/or review committee members.

Demonstrations and Art Installations

We invite proposals for demonstrations of interesting new robots and related technology or art installations interrogating robotics law, ethics and policy broadly construed. Unlike papers, proposals for demonstrations and art installations may be purely descriptive and designers/builders/artists will be asked to present their work themselves. We’d like to hear about your latest innovations, what’s on the drawing board for the next generation of robots, or about legal and policy issues you have encountered in the design or deploy process. Please bring your robots if you can!


The submission portal will open on August 1, 2019, and proposals for demonstrations or art installations are due by February 14, 2020 (Extended Deadline).

Please submit a description of what you have, or are doing, with links to any relevant photos or audiovisual information. Also include a brief description of what facilities and resources your demonstration or art installation will require (e.g., power, Internet connection, physical space).


We will waive all conference fees for one presenter for every accepted demonstration and art installation. 


All questions regarding this call for proposals should be directed to We Robot 2020 co-chairs (Drs. Martin-Bariteau and Millar) at [email protected].