Ethics in Action: Envisioning Human Values in the Early Stages of Drone Development

Nicolai Iversen, Dylan Cawthorne

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


This work introduces a case-study of a European Union-funded drone research project where an attempt was made to put ethics into action. Value sensitive design envisioning cards were used to identify relevant ethical considerations in the project via a workshop early in the development process. These included: stakeholder, human values, pervasiveness, time, and multi-lifespan considerations. It was found that the engineering experts in the workshop were engaged and willing to be critical of their own technology. Several ethics recommendations and approaches were given to improve the project, including capability caution, explicability, meaningful human control, meaningful human work, design for calmness, stakeholder input methods, design for end-of-life, and privacy by design. A short envisioning workshop is not sufficient to address all ethical challenges, so the final impact on the design of the drone system remains to be seen. Still, we hope that this work contributes in some way to bridging the engineering-ethics and research-practice gaps.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Robots in Social Institutions
EditorsRaul Hakli, Pekka Mäkelä, Johanna Seibt
PublisherIOS Press
Publication date2023
ISBN (Print)978-1-64368-374-4
ISBN (Electronic)9781643683744
Publication statusPublished - 2023
SeriesFrontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications


  • UAS
  • UAV
  • artificial intelligence
  • autonomous systems
  • envisioning cards
  • swarms
  • value sensitive design


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