Call: Ethical, Legal and Societal Aspects of Wearable Robots issue of PALADYN, Journal of Behavioral Robotics

Call for Papers

Ethical, Legal and Societal Aspects of Wearable Robots
Topical Issue in
PALADYN, Journal of Behavioral Robotics

Submission deadline: 31st October 2019


Dr. Eduard Fosch Villaronga (lead GE:, Leiden University, NL
Dr. Heike Felzmann, NUI Galway, Ireland
Dr. Ann-Marie Hughes, University of Southampton, U.K.
Ms. Alexandra Kapeller, Linköping University, Sweden


Prof. Deborah G. Johnson
Department of Engineering and Society, University of Virginia,
Olsson Professor of Applied Ethics, Emeritus
Adjunct Professor, Department of Information Science and Media Studies, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

Prof. Mohamed Bouri
Group leader of Rehabilitation and Assistive Robotics at Robotics Systems Lab (LSRO) at EPFL, Switzerland,

Prof. Charles Melvin Ess
Department of Media and Communication, University of Oslo, Norway,


Wearable robots (WRs) are an emerging technology designed to augment, train or supplement motor functions. Usually worn over clothing, WRs are mechanical devices that are essentially anthropomorphic in nature, are worn by an operator and fit closely to the body, and work in concert with the operator’s movements. Ideally, they work in seamless integration with the user’s (residual) musculoskeletal system and sensory-motor control, with minimal cognitive disruption and required compensatory motion. The term ‘wearable robots’ includes both exoskeletons and orthoses, which relate to WR’s purposes. Although they also contextualize the computer in such a way that the human and computer are inextricably intertwined, WRs are different from wearable computing in general, e.g. fitness trackers, smart watches or head-mounted displays, which are also body-borne devices but lack the influence on motor functions and subsequent intertwinement of human and machine). Wrs should be also distinguished from social robots, which are external to the body; and prosthesis, which replace rather than support limbs.

To provide appropriate augmentation or supplementation of physical capabilities, WRs are fastened directly to the user’s body and process vast amounts of data. Through their close human-machine interaction, active WRs may generate destructive forces whose controlled output behavior may not always be in agreement with the user’s intent. This particular, close interaction with the user raises ethical, legal and social (ELS) issues, e.g., questions about safety, responsibility, and identity, which differ from those of other, previously mentioned, robot technology types that interact differently with users, e.g., socially assistive robots.

So far, the ethical, legal and societal (ELS) implication community has insufficiently engaged with the topic of the design and use of WRs, although concepts like privacy-by-design have been developed since the 90s, and, after the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, are even legally binding in Europe. Moreover, the existing literature on the ethics of robotics has been criticized for being too distant from innovation practices and contexts of use.

Engagement with these ELS issues is crucial, as guidance and regulation of the design of these devices are needed urgently. The EU has recognized the importance of this subject through their funding of the COST action CA16116 on Wearable Robots for Augmentation, Assistance or Substitution of Human Motor Functions, which has a dedicated working group on ELS issues (European Cooperation in Science and Technology and the framework programme Horizon 2020). The CA16116 ELS WG aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of ELS issues in Wearable Robotics, identifying relevant values and ethical, philosophical, legal and social concerns related to the design, deployment and practical use of wearable robots. In this special issue, the ELS WG of the CA16116 welcomes contributions that address the central ethical, legal, and societal issues revolving around WRs for the augmentation or supplementation of personal capabilities.

Potential topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Privacy and data protection
  • ELS Implications of the use of brain-computer interfaces for wearable robots
  • Cybersecurity
  • Tax law implications
  • Labor law implications of the employment of wearable robots
  • Responsibility, liability and accountability issues revolving around wearable robots
  • Disability rights
  • Embodiment and Identity
  • Policy implications of wearable robots
  • Control and agency of wearable robots
  • De-humanization and technologization
  • Technology impact assessment
  • Vulnerability
  • Standards and public policymaking initiatives aiming at regulating wearable robots

Authors are requested to submit their full research papers to this thematic special issue, complying the general scope of the journal. The submitted papers will undergo the standard peer-review process before they can be accepted. Notification of acceptance will be communicated as we progress with the review process.


Before submission authors should carefully read the Instruction for Authors:

Manuscripts can be written in TeX, LaTeX (strongly recommended) – the journal’s LATEX template. Please note that we do not accept papers in Plain TEX format. Text files can be also submitted as standard DOCUMENT (.DOC) which is acceptable if the submission in LATEX is not possible. For initial submission, the authors are strongly advised to upload their entire manuscript, including tables and figures, as a single PDF file.

All submissions to the Topical Issue must be made electronically via online submission system Editorial Manager:

All manuscripts will undergo the standard peer-review process (single blind, at least two independent reviewers). When entering your submission via the online submission system please choose the option “TI on the Ethical, Legal and Societal Aspects of Wearable Robots”.

The deadline for submissions is 31st October 2019, but individual papers will be reviewed and published online as they arrive.

Contributors to the Topical Issue will benefit from:

  • indexation in SCOPUS
  • NO submission and publication FEES
  • fair and constructive peer review provided by experts in the field
  • no space constraints
  • convenient, web-based paper submission and tracking system – Editorial Manager
  • free language assistance for authors from non-English speaking regions
  • quick online publication upon completing the publishing process (continuous publication model)
  • better visibility due to Open Access
  • long-term preservation of the content (articles archived in Portico)
  • extensive post-publication promotion for selected papers

We are looking forward to your submission!

In case of any questions please contact Dr. Eduard Fosch Villaronga (lead GE: or Dr. Justyna Żuk (Managing Editor of Paladyn. JBR;

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