Call for Papers

We Robot 2018 Call for Papers
“Bits and Bones”

We invite submissions for the seventh annual robotics law and policy conference—We Robot 2018—to be held at Stanford Law School in Palo Alto, California on April 12-14, 2018. In past years, the conference has been held at University of Miami School of Law, University of Washington School of Law, Stanford Law School, and Yale Law School. The conference website is

We Robot fosters conversations between those who research, design, or influence the legal and social structures in which robots operate and those that design, build, and deploy robots. We encourage contributions resulting from interdisciplinary collaborations, such as those between roboticists, legal, ethical, economic, social science and policy scholars.

Qualified submissions include scholarly paper abstracts, detailed outlines of robotics demos, and expressions of interest in being a discussant.  Other creative proposals are welcome. We Robot favors proposals (written scholarship and relevant demos) that are a collaboration between law/policy scholars and technologists.  This year we are particularly interested in submissions exploring the interface between the digital and physical world.

Scholarly Papers

Scholarly papers are academic works presented by a discussant instead of the author(s). Topics of interest for the scholarly paper portion of the conference will tend to focus on the interaction between robots and social structures and include, but are not limited to:

  • The interface between the digital and the physical.
  • Positive or negative impacts of robotics on vulnerable populations.
  • Inclusion and diversity in the field of robotics and robotics law and policy.
  • Law/policy considerations in the evaluation or enhancement of security and safety in publicly accessible or public facing robots.

These are only some examples of relevant topics. We are very interested in papers on other topics driven by actual or probable robot deployments. The purpose of this conference is to help set a research agenda relating to the deployment of robots in society, to inform policy-makers of the issues, and to help design legal rules that will maximize diversity and minimize exclusion arising from the increased deployment of robots in society. Papers are selected on a blind basis by an interdisciplinary program committee.


Proposals for demonstrations may be purely descriptive and designer/builders will be asked to present their work themselves. We’d like to hear about your latest innovations, what’s on the drawing board for the next generations of robots, or about legal and policy issues you have encountered in the design or deploy process.


We also invite expressions of interest from potential discussants. Every paper accepted will be assigned a discussant who will present and comment on the paper. Because it is an expectation at We Robot that our audience is in fact a larger group of participants who have read the papers as a precondition of attendance, these presentations will be very brief (no more than 15 minutes) and will consist mostly of making a few points critiquing the author’s paper to kick off the conversation. Authors will then respond briefly (no more than 5 minutes). The rest of the session will consist of a group discussion with the discussant acting as a moderator, whose role is to encourage and promote diverse, inclusive, and active participation from our audience.

Scholarly Paper Prizes

The program committee will select an “Overall Best Paper” and a “Best Paper” submitted by an early career academic.   The prize for each award is $2,000.   Scholarly papers are only eligible if submitted in a timely fashion (see timeline below) and “early career academic” is defined as a scholar with a full-time appointment but less than three years teaching experience as of the abstract submission deadline.


How to Submit Your Proposal – Abstract Submission Deadline is November 6, 2017

  • Abstracts/Proposals are due by 5pm Pacific Time on November 6, 2017 *
  • Submissions will be reviewed and notifications of acceptance will be delivered on December 11, 2017
  • Final papers (or definitive deliverable if a project) are due no later than March 1, 2018

It may be informative to review past conference content and selected papers.  You can view past We Robot conference details (including selected papers and projects) here:

* Please note that the November 6, 2017 submission deadline requires an abstract (with or without additional materials or explanation) or a detailed proposal and does not require the final paper or submission of the completed project.

For most accepted papers/projects, we anticipate paying reasonable round-trip domestic or international coach airfare and providing hotel accommodation for presenters and discussants.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any formatting requirements for the abstract submission?


Is there a minimum word-count for papers or abstracts?


Do you accept multiple abstract submissions involving an author, or do you limit any co-author to one submission?

While we do accept multiple abstract submissions, any single author will generally be limited to one acceptance. In the case of different co-authors for multiple submissions, if there is the possibility of more than a single acceptance for a given co-author the situation may be allowed but is handled on a case-by-case basis by the Program Committee.

Can I submit a paper and apply to be a discussant?

Yes, but you must submit a separate entry for each item.

What does the travel/lodging reimbursement policy mean?

The policy states: For most accepted papers/projects, we anticipate paying reasonable round-trip domestic or international coach airfare and providing hotel accommodation for presenters and discussants. This generally means that, so long as budget allows, we will provide a modest stipend (after the fact reimbursement) to cover economy advanced purchase airfare and lodging for up to two nights. The total per-traveler amount available for reimbursement may vary by region and specific circumstance but is generally capped at $785 per individual.

What information should I submit as a discussant?

Along with your CV, you should provide a paragraph (or two, at most) about your current specific interests/research in the field if not obvious from your CV and any prior academic or industry experience either with this particular conference or similar conferences – including if you’ve presented papers and/or been a discussant or other form of participant.


If you have any additional questions, please contact

Stanford Law School Programs or (650) 723-5905