International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 575–587 | Cite as

Designing Commercial Therapeutic Robots for Privacy Preserving Systems and Ethical Research Practices Within the Home

  • Elaine Sedenberg
  • John Chuang
  • Deirdre Mulligan


The migration of robots from the laboratory into sensitive home settings as commercially available therapeutic agents represents a significant transition for information privacy and ethical imperatives. We present new privacy paradigms and apply the fair information practices (FIPs) to investigate concerns unique to the placement of therapeutic robots in private home contexts. We then explore the importance and utility of research ethics as operationalized by existing human subjects research frameworks to guide the consideration of therapeutic robotic users—a step vital to the continued research and development of these platforms. Together, privacy and research ethics frameworks provide two complementary approaches to protect users and ensure responsible yet robust information sharing for technology development. We make recommendations for the implementation of these principles—paying particular attention to specific principles that apply to vulnerable individuals (i.e., children, disabled, or elderly persons)—to promote the adoption and continued improvement of long-term, responsible, and research-enabled robotics in private settings.


Therapeutic robots HRI Embedded sensors Privacy by design Research ethics Responsible information sharing 



This research was supported by the Hewlett Foundation through the UC Berkeley Center for Long- Term Cybersecurity (CLTC). The authors would also like to acknowledge the reviewers for their valuable feedback.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BioSENSE Lab, School of InformationUC BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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