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Ethical Concerns of Unmanned and Autonomous Systems in Engineering Programs

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Graduate Ethics Education & Professional Codes

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.538.1 - 24.538.13



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Paper Authors


Richard S. Stansbury Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ., Daytona Beach

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Dr. Richard S. Stansbury is an associate professor of computer engineering and computer science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL. His research interests include unmanned aircraft systems, field robotics, and applied artificial intelligence. He is program coordinator for ERAU's new MS in Unmanned and Autonomous Systems Engineering program, which began in fall 2013.

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Joshua Lloyd Olds Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univ., Daytona Beach


Eric Joe Coyle Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

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Eric J. Coyle received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Florida State University with a concentration in Dynamics and Controls. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Intelligent Systems, Control and Robotics (CISCOR) before joining Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering in 2011. His research interests include robotics, computer vision, machine learning, rehabilitation engineering and controls.

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Ethical Concerns of Unmanned and Autonomous Systems in Engineering ProgramsThe term “unmanned system” can refer to types of systems that were traditionallycontrolled either directly or indirectly through a human operator, but have throughmodern technologies been automated to no longer require a human operator. Examplesof unmanned systems include: unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), unmanned surfacevehicles (USV), unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), and unmanned underwater vehicle(UUV).Unmanned systems are entering into educational curricula (both K-12 and post-secondary) because they are capture student interest, they are multidisciplinary, andprovide educational opportunities to demonstrate many tangible concepts from STEM. Incollegiate engineering programs, unmanned systems are used both within the curriculum(e.g. capstone design projects) and as part of co-curricular/extra curricular projects (e.g.the Associate for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s Student Unmanned AerialSystems Competition). Graduate programs dedicated to unmanned systems engineeringare beginning to emerge to provide specialized engineering skills to support an emergingindustry.This paper seeks to investigate and report the various ethical issues that exist that must beconsidered with respect to engineering education involving robotic systems. Some of theethical issues to be discussed include: • Educating students and student teams regarding the safe, legal, and ethical usage of experimental robotic systems such as UAS and autonomous automobiles; • Addressing concerns of how and to whom unmanned systems to ensure the safe, responsible, and legal dissemination of information regarding unmanned technologies within our curriculum and university sponsored programs; • Educating students and faculty about unmanned technology specific ethical debates that currently exist within our society such as privacy, public safety, liability, lethal use, etc.; and • Responding to external criticism from the media and public regarding programs that teach about unmanned and autonomous systems.

Stansbury, R. S., & Olds, J. L., & Coyle, E. J. (2014, June), Ethical Concerns of Unmanned and Autonomous Systems in Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20429

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