ERC Starting Grant

SAFE & SOUND Towards Evidence-based Policies for Safe and Sound Robots 

ERC StG SAFE & SOUND has the ambition to connect the policy cycle with data generated in robot testing zones to support evidence-based policymaking for robot technologies. 


There is an increasing gap between the policy cycle's speed and technological change. This gap is very noticeable in healthcare robotics, where policies are scattered and cover the issues robots entailed unevenly. This disconnect results in robot developers failing to integrate essential legal considerations into their designs, user safety not always being ensured, and the development of systems that may cause harm to patients. While other sectors enjoy evidence-based policies that translate policy goals into practical guidance, these frameworks have yet to emerge for robotic technology. 

Research objectives

SAFE&SOUND ushers in a new knowledge-policy relationship model for robots to facilitate the integration of legal requirements into the design of robotic technology in simulators, testing zones, and living labs, and reuse the data generated from this process for evidence-based policies on robots.

To turn this conceptual model into practice, this project focuses on healthcare robots; in particular, on two specific case studies: lower-limb exoskeletons and socially assistive robots. The testing zones developed by H2020 EUROBENCH and ISO 13482:2014 on safety requirements for personal care robots are used for this project.


SAFE & SOUND's overarching methodology is anticipatory regulation, an emerging, proactive, iterative legal approach for empirically framing fast-evolving technological changes. This novel method is inclusive and collaborative, future-facing, proactively engages with innovation, has an iterative mindset and is outcomes-based. Moreover, it counts with decentralized experimentation to enable diverse responses to the regulation of early-stage opportunities and risks where national or global policies and standards are still to be established. SAFE & SOUND uses robot testbeds, open data, interaction between regulators and developers, and active patient engagement to support regulators' proactive, engaged role in the healthcare robot innovation process.

Scientific contribution

SAFE & SOUND advances research toward an evidence-based regulatory model for robots that guides rather than catches up with robot (r)evolution and is more attuned to societal needs and fundamental rights. SAFE & SOUND opens new avenues for using evidence-based mechanisms to regulate robots in the EU and serves as an example for such activities across the globe. 

Team configuration (TBD)

Eduard Fosch-Villaronga

Principal Investigator


Postdoctoral Researcher


Ph.D. Candidate


Ph.D. Candidate

Job openings!

Slide vacancies

Background reading

You can read more about the foundations on which this project is based by reading the following articles:

The Safe and Sound project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon-ERC program,  Grant Agreement No. 101076929. Views and opinions expressed are, however, those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Council. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.