Robots for Last Days is a resource for anyone interested in exploring the discourse on robotic systems designed to accompany people in the last days of their lives.


Robots have moved from the factory floor to the hospital ward. Increasingly, robots are charged with delicate tasks formerly reserved for people. Long-term care institutions are already using various robotic systems to entertain and monitor a growing population of elderly patients. Surgical robots can perform some operations better than surgeons. It is only a matter of time before robotic systems assist the terminally ill, in one way or another.

In this context, the term “robot” refers to both the physical systems that people interact with and also the software and power structures that make a robot possible. The term may carry both positive and negative connotations; the last days we share with robots could very well be unintentional and unwelcome as robots designed to seek and destroy human beings are already a reality on today’s battlefields.


Robots are currently discussed and researched in a wide variety of fields and disciplines, including engineering, ethics, health care, social sciences, the arts and military sciences. Currently, Robots for Last Days comprises over 200 texts from different disciplines focusing on robots in end of life situations. This resource is a way to explore how different texts connect and what themes emerge across the disciplines. Furthermore, the database can be used to map how certain themes, features and technological inventions travel from one area to another. We have grouped the materials into eight main categories: robot AI, robot care, robot ethics, sociology of robots, philosophy of robots, legislation of robots, killer robots, and art. Each paper has also been assigned a professional category based on the venue of publication or the disciplinary context. Finally, we have mapped particular themes that emerge from these papers. These are classified as tags. Some tags are generated based on keywords defined by the authors of the papers, others are created by our own analysis of the content. Categories and tags are constantly evolving through the process of analyzing and adding new material. As such, this is a living archive that evolves together with the changes in end-of-life-robotics.


Marc Böhlen, Tero Karppi
Department of Media Study
University at Buffalo

Derek Curry
Johannes Deich
Yvette Granata

Contact email: marcbohlen AT acm DOT org