Stream 1: Social impacts of embryonic applications of robotics

In Stream 1, Dr David Bissell and his team will examine precisely how robotics technologies are being implemented across a range of Australian workplaces and across different sectors of employment.  The aims of this stream are to:

  • Understand the decision-making processes, challenges and dilemmas that different workplaces have encountered in adopting new robotics technologies.
  • Identity the new physical, intellectual and emotional skills that robotics are giving rise to in different workplaces.
  • Evaluate the nature of the new working relationships between workers and technologies that robotics applications have created in different workplaces.

During 2016/17, we will be conducting short interviews with people who work for companies and organisations that have introduced robotic technologies. We are researching a range of different employment sectors including transport and logistics, agriculture, resources, manufacturing, administration, tourism, and healthcare.  

What we would like to find out

We are interested in learning about how your organisation or company has implemented robotic technologies and the effect that this has had on your workplace. From the perspective of your role, we are interested in understanding:

  • How are robotics used in your workplace? What were these technologies designed to achieve? How did your workplace operate prior to the introduction of these robotics?
  • How did you go about introducing robotics in your workplace? What were some of the challenges, decision-making and consultation processes involved in their introduction?
  • How did the introduction of these robotics technologies affect how people work in your workplace?
  • What new forms of training and skill does your workplace require as a result of robotics?
  • What sorts of maintenance and repair do your robotics technologies require?


  • The interview will last about 30 minutes at a time and location that is convenient and comfortable for you.
  • The interview style will be open-ended and conversational rather than a series of closed-questions.
  • Subject to your permission, we would appreciate recording the interview. If you would prefer not to be recorded, we will make brief notes of our conversation after the interview. The sound file will only be used for transcription.


Participation is entirely voluntary and you can decide to withdraw from the project at any time, and without reason. If you decide to withdraw, there will be no negative consequences, and your data will not be used.

  • Unless you request to be identified, conversation will be de-identified. Unattributed quotes may be used in project outcomes. These include: conference papers; scholarly articles; a monograph on robotic futures; summary reports for industry and government bodies; submissions to government and parliamentary inquiries and op-eds.
  • Reference made to any off-record topics of conversation in the project outcomes will be generalised to ensure that you will not be personally identifiable.
  • Even with de-identification, there is still a small risk that you might be identified by what you tell us. In order to manage those risks the following safeguards have been put in place:
  • If you mention something identifiable which cannot be de-identified or generalised, we will either seek further permission from you to use it or we will not use it at all.
  • You have the option to review, edit and veto the use of your transcript or parts of the transcript.
  • Only the four researchers of the Robotic Futures project team (see below) will have access to the transcripts, the sound recordings, and the notebooks which will be typed-up and safely stored in password-protected, encrypted files at ANU, UniSA and the University of Wollongong, and kept for five years. After this time, the data will be securely erased. If a third-party is used to type up the interview, they will only have temporary access to the sound recording.

Project benefits

We anticipate that our project will benefit Australian society by providing new knowledge about the diverse skills that workplaces of the future will require.

  • By conducting interviews with people who work in companies or organisations that have pioneered new robotic technologies, we hope to build up a picture of the diverse ways in which robotics are impacting on Australian workplaces.
  • This will allow us to go beyond some of the more generalised alarmist claims that are frequently made in the media about how robotics are a threat to the future of work in Australia.
  • Whilst it is unlikely that you will personally benefit from participating in this research, your contribution will provide broader benefits to Australian society by helping us to better understand the changing nature of work.
  • The final project outcomes will be available on this website. We can also send these to you on request.

Get in touch

If you would like to participate in this project, or if you have any questions, please contact the project leader at:

Dr David Bissell

School of Sociology, Haydon Allen Bdg (#22)

The Australian National University

Acton ACT 2601

Telephone: (02) 6125 4209; Mobile: 0402 329 680. Email:

Or you can contact the Research Assistant at:

Dr Eric Hsu

School of Communications, International Studies and Languages

University of South Australia

GPO Box 2471

Adelaide SA 5001

Telephone (08) 8302 1836; Fax (08) 8302 2973. Email:

Ethical conduct

The ethical aspects of this research have been approved by the ANU Human Research Ethics Committee (Protocol 2016/328). If you have any concerns or complaints about how this research has been conducted, please contact:

Ethics Manager, The ANU Human Research Ethics Committee, The Australian National University. Telephone: (02) 6125 3427. Email: