This paper introduces the emerging subfield of privacy-sensitive robotics. It contains two in-depth surveys, one of the concept of privacy and one of robotics techniques that could be used for privacy protection. The survey of privacy begins with definitions, then outlines the history of privacy in philosophy and U.S. law. Next, an array of studies in the social sciences are presented before closing with a review of privacy in the technology literature. The survey of robot constraints is divided into three parts—perception constraints, navigation constraints, and manipulation constraints—and is presented in light of a need for privacy-based restrictions on robot behavior. The paper also suggests future work in privacy-sensitive robotics including both basic research, which addresses questions relevant to any concern within privacy-sensitive robotics, and applied research, which develops and tests concrete solutions in specific scenarios.Several themes emerge. First, that the word “privacy” is variously defined: There is no unanimously accepted theory of privacy, but most theorists acknowledge that “privacy” refers to more than one idea. Hence, it is very important for privacy-sensitive robotics researchers to give a specific definition for each privacy-related construct being used. Second, we see that privacy research has been done in many different fields—e.g., law, psychology, economics, and computer science. Privacy-sensitive robotics researchers will benefit from connecting with several of these existing trees of research as they begin making their own contributions. Third, most privacy constructs are subjective; the same scenario might violate some people’s privacy, but not others’. Thus, user studies are necessary, followed by careful analysis. Making broad generalizations is especially dangerous in privacy research. Fourth, privacy-sensitive robotics is only just beginning to be explored by researchers, and it appears that many well-defined and useful research projects can be started right away.
Matthew Rueben and Bill Smart will present Privacy-Sensitive Robotics: Initial Survey and Future Directions on Friday, April 1st at 10:5 AM with discussant Ashkan Soltani at the University of Miami Newman Alumni Center in Coral Gables, Florida.