The Peculiar Case of the Mushroom Picking Robot: Extra-contractual Liability in Robotics

  • Ioannis RevolidisEmail author
  • Alan Dahi
Part of the Perspectives in Law, Business and Innovation book series (PLBI)


This chapter focuses on the extra-contractual liability of robots. It shows that robot-specific difficulties facing the legal system can be found in other areas of the law, and that the law has successfully addressed the difficulties. As such, a specific “(Liability) Law of the Robot” is not needed. Moreover, robots are too diverse a category to permit a uniform approach of dealing with the liability of their acts. Robots, and the underlying Artificial Intelligence, will need to be assessed against their purposes and capabilities, respectively. The contribution does not intend to offer a detailed answer on how exactly the problem of extra-contractual liability of robots shall be addressed, considering that such a discussion goes beyond a book chapter. It represents a first effort to explore the methodological particularities of the problem. It will, therefore, only include detailed insights to the extent necessary for the relevant methodological discussion. Without any intention of oversimplifying the problem of the civil accountability of robots, as the detailed nuances of the probable solutions definitely need further refinement, the chapter assumes that the traditional risk distribution mechanisms of civil liability systems can provide for a solid framework that can be processed further in order to adequately meet the particularities of robots. Drawing from the “Law of the Horse” debate, the chapter neither pleads for technological insensitivity nor does it proclaim that technological utopianism shall be the method to replace it, but it suggests that the lessons from regulating the Internet might point to a creative synthesis of technological advancements and traditional regulatory mechanisms, so that both are represented equally in the new set of rules that is meant to regulate new and disruptive phenomena, such as the social and economic impact of robots.


Robots Civil liability Torts Agency Legal personhood 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Legal Informatics, Leibniz Universität HannoverHannoverGermany
  2. 2.Grand CaymanCayman Islands

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