Robots are up-and-coming. Leaving behind the cages of production lines within automotive production, they support human labour through direct cooperation - or replace it altogether. Similar developments can be observed in the service sector. Activities, which have always been considered the domain of human autonomy and social competence, can be automated and undertaken by robots.
Prominent examples of these new possibilities are self-driving cars and care-robots. This two-part study is looking at these developments, it was carried out on behalf of the Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology.
The first part is dedicated to providing an overview of the current status of international developments in the field of robotics, including short- and medium-term perspectives of future developments. This overview provides a systematic presentation of various robot types and existing areas of application. On its basis, ethical, societal and political challenges arising in connection with the development of robotics were identified and briefly described, followed by an assessment as to what extent the raised issues could be of relevance for Austrian policy.
The second part of this study was dedicated to identifying who may be relevant for a "robotics network" in Austria. Actors from the areas of industrial production and R&D in the field of robotics as well as experts involved in research at university or non-university research institutes were considered. This survey also covered expected important developments within the next ten years and the resulting challenges for Austria.
The first part of this study was primarily based on literature and internet research; in the second part, the internet searches were supplemented by telephone interviews according to the snowball principle.
The purpose of this short study was to provide political decision-makers with an overview of relevant developments and challenges in the field of robotics, in order to be able to draw conclusions about requirements as well as required actions relevant for Austria. At the same time this overview is intended to provide support for priority setting by identifying central topics as well as the most important actors and stakeholders.