Research Topic

Assuring Trustworthiness of Autonomous Systems as Intelligent and Ethical Teammates

About this Research Topic

Advances in the area of robotics/autonomous systems have significantly increased the prevalence of teaming with robots to accomplish challenging goals. These goals span a diverse set of applications, for commercial purposes, across several industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, and transportation. Furthermore, with increases in the capabilities of artificial intelligence technology, the responsibility allocated to an autonomous system, or a team of autonomous systems, has increased manifold. Added to this is the emergence of shared autonomy between the human and robotic systems in collaborative tasks. As a result, autonomous systems need to be designed to facilitate the development and maintenance of high levels of human operator trust in, and effective interaction with, autonomous systems to achieve these goals.

Human-robot interaction has been the focus of study for decades; however, it has had a limited impact on the actual design of robotic and autonomous systems. Much of the research related to the design of these systems has focused on which responsibilities to assign to the autonomous system as a team member, without enough emphasis on how human-robot interaction should occur, and the ethical behavior that should be exhibited by the autonomous system. With the increasing complexity of autonomous systems, this interaction plays an increasingly important role in successfully achieving tasks, goals, ethics, handling contingencies, and preventing errors. It becomes especially important when the context dynamically changes, or when dealing with unexpected uncertainty. The enhanced intelligence of autonomous systems with machine learning technology increases their complexity, and as a result, the actions taken by the autonomous system are not obvious or explained well to the human operator. To address this problem, research efforts targeting effective interaction between the human/autonomous system teammates, and the development and maintenance of trust are needed.

Towards enhancing the current human-robot interaction literature, there is a need to develop and share methods of assuring effective human-robot teaming, such as by 1.) conducting research in the understanding of human-robot interaction and trust, 2.) modeling and analysis of the interactions between human and robot teammates and 3.) including ethical reasoning to gain trust.

This Research Topic aims to bring together research findings and best practices from academia and industry related to:
• Ethical considerations for the design of trustworthy autonomous systems
• Assurance of safe/ trustworthy/ reliable/ responsible performance with human-robot/machine interaction/ effective use of shared autonomy
• Ethical frameworks for robots
• User perception/ human perception of trustworthy human-robot systems
• Ethically-aligned human-robot systems
• Formal Methods for assuring human-machine teaming


Keywords: Autonomous Systems, Human-Robot Teaming, Trust, Ethics, Assurance


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Advances in the area of robotics/autonomous systems have significantly increased the prevalence of teaming with robots to accomplish challenging goals. These goals span a diverse set of applications, for commercial purposes, across several industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, and transportation. Furthermore, with increases in the capabilities of artificial intelligence technology, the responsibility allocated to an autonomous system, or a team of autonomous systems, has increased manifold. Added to this is the emergence of shared autonomy between the human and robotic systems in collaborative tasks. As a result, autonomous systems need to be designed to facilitate the development and maintenance of high levels of human operator trust in, and effective interaction with, autonomous systems to achieve these goals.

Human-robot interaction has been the focus of study for decades; however, it has had a limited impact on the actual design of robotic and autonomous systems. Much of the research related to the design of these systems has focused on which responsibilities to assign to the autonomous system as a team member, without enough emphasis on how human-robot interaction should occur, and the ethical behavior that should be exhibited by the autonomous system. With the increasing complexity of autonomous systems, this interaction plays an increasingly important role in successfully achieving tasks, goals, ethics, handling contingencies, and preventing errors. It becomes especially important when the context dynamically changes, or when dealing with unexpected uncertainty. The enhanced intelligence of autonomous systems with machine learning technology increases their complexity, and as a result, the actions taken by the autonomous system are not obvious or explained well to the human operator. To address this problem, research efforts targeting effective interaction between the human/autonomous system teammates, and the development and maintenance of trust are needed.

Towards enhancing the current human-robot interaction literature, there is a need to develop and share methods of assuring effective human-robot teaming, such as by 1.) conducting research in the understanding of human-robot interaction and trust, 2.) modeling and analysis of the interactions between human and robot teammates and 3.) including ethical reasoning to gain trust.

This Research Topic aims to bring together research findings and best practices from academia and industry related to:
• Ethical considerations for the design of trustworthy autonomous systems
• Assurance of safe/ trustworthy/ reliable/ responsible performance with human-robot/machine interaction/ effective use of shared autonomy
• Ethical frameworks for robots
• User perception/ human perception of trustworthy human-robot systems
• Ethically-aligned human-robot systems
• Formal Methods for assuring human-machine teaming


Keywords: Autonomous Systems, Human-Robot Teaming, Trust, Ethics, Assurance


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

13 December 2020 Manuscript
12 January 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

13 December 2020 Manuscript
12 January 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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