The trial of a robot - an unmanned autonomous tractor - has been held at Tomsk State University. The Institute of Law and Institute of Economics and Management were the organizers of the game session.
To date, the law does not regulate precedents on the participation of robots as subjects of legal relations. Therefore, according to the organizers of the game court, the project will create such experience and impact the creation of decisional law.
- Now robot automation is everywhere, the robot is already a kind of person, and my colleagues and I have thought about what rights and duties it could have, - says Elena Bugayeva, the organizer of the project, the manager of the Innovation and Technology Business Incubator of TSU. - And we decided to propose such a format: in a game form, we propose which rights artificial intelligence can have, whether it needs a passport, and whether it has the right to exist with us on the same level.
For several hours, the courtroom of the Institute of Law was the site of an unusual process in modern legal practice – the trial of a robot. The court considered the case of an autonomous tractor, which for some reason had plowed part of the land of the local reserve and damaged Red Book plants.
- On May 6, 2025, from 5.00 to 6.12 local time in the vicinity of the village of Digital Vasyugan, in the morning mist conditions, an unmanned autonomous tractor of the company N. Technologie, owned by the farmer Sitnikova Darya Leonidovna, plowed a piece of land belonging to the Vasyugan Reserve, - the judge read out the summary of the matter.
During the judicial session, the court heard all parties: the plaintiff, who was the reserve director; the defendant, the farmer who owned the automated tractor; the robot's lawyer; and experts - the representative of the producer of autonomous robots N. Technologie, and an expert programmer. It was found that the tractor was in good working order at the time of operation, there was no malfunction in the system, and the farmer did not make any changes to the robot's settings. Based on the testimony, the three judges issued a verdict to reject the claim against the robot. The court specified that incorrect work of the cadastral engineer who mispronounced the coordinates of the reserve on the map was the reason for the damage inflicted on the reserve. The court invited the parties to conclude a friendly agreement, in which the farmer is ready to pay the damage caused by the tractor, and the management of the reserve agrees to accept it.
Organizers plan to make the project Trial of Robots a regular event. Every month students and all comers will consider various cases and discuss possible options for developing disputes in which the subject will be robots endowed with artificial intelligence.
- It's important not only to regularly conduct similar game courts, but to accumulate precedents, - explains Konstantin Belyakov, Vice-Rector for Innovation. - I hope that by the end of the year, the number of such precedents will be sufficient to create in the future, for example, a specialized rubric in popular reference and legal systems so that in case of an incident, lawyers and anyone could see what solutions to such issues already exist. In addition, the purpose of this great work is the creation of a code and regulatory legislative documents.