Informatics and Digital Creation

Societal impact of robotics


The use of robots is no longer limited to controlled industrial spaces. They are integrated into our daily spaces, and interact in a more or less predictable way. They are therefore objects to which the current laws of responsibility, for example, are no longer completely adapted. Decryption …



  • Robotics: apparatus that performs, through a system of automatic controls, a specific task for which it has been designed in the industrial, scientific or domestic field. The word « robot » was created (in a fictional work) from the Czech word « robota » which means « work, work, chore ».
  • Scientific lock: we speak of scientific lock, for a result not yet obtained, but on which depend other scientific or technical results. This is a constraint to be lifted for a field of research to advance.
  • Ethics: is a fundamental reflection on a subject, which then allows to propose standards, limits and duties, while respecting certain values. Morality refers to all these established rules.
  • Cantal: the word designates a mountainous mass of Auvergne in the French department of the same name which produces a cheese of the same name; it is used here in the figurative sense to refer to « people of the countryside », this with a touch of self-deprecation, which could pass for clumsiness, if the speaker did not like the cheese in question.
  • Cobot: (for collaborative robot) means a robot in real interaction, direct or teleoperated, with an operator or a human user.
  • Encrypt: Anglicism for the word encrypt, ie to make a document secret, so that its understanding is impossible for anyone who does not have the (de) encryption key.
  • Anonymize: ensure that a dataset containing personal information does not identify individuals and therefore avoids access to private information about them.


Jean-Pierre Merlet is Research Director Inria, scientific leader of the Hephaistos team, and Fellow member of the IEEE. His current research in robotics focuses on the development of robotic platforms for the elderly and disabled, to help them maintain a certain autonomy and other services to the person. He has also made major contributions in the field of high-performance precision robotics (parallel robots) and in scientific prospective related to robotics. He is also a highly committed researcher, particularly in the defense of quality public research, and the links between research and major ethical and environmental issues.