Implementing Ethical, Legal, and Societal Considerations in Wearable Robot Design

Alexandra Kapeller*, Heike Felzmann, Eduard Fosch Villaronga, Konstantinos Nizamis, Ann Marie Hughes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
125 Downloads (Pure)


Ethical, legal and societal implications (ELSI) in the development of wearable robots (WRs) are currently not explicitly addressed in most guidelines for WR developers. Previous work has identified ELSI related to WRs, e.g., impacts on body and identity, ableism, data protection, control and responsibilities, but translation of these concerns into actionable recommendations remains outstanding. This paper provides practical guidance for the implementation of ELSI in WR design, development and use. First, we identify the need for domain-specific recommendations against the context of current ELSI guidance. We then demonstrate the feasibility and usefulness of taking a domain-specific approach by successively transforming currently identified ELSI into an action-guiding flowchart for integration of ELSI specific to the different stages of WR development. This flowchart identifies specific questions to be considered by WR development teams and suggests actions to be taken in response. By tailoring ELSI guidance to WR developers, centring it on user needs, their relation to others and wider society, and being cognizant of existing legislation and values, we hope to help the community develop better WRs that are safer, have greater usability, and which impact positively on society.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6705
JournalApplied Sciences
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2021


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