“This is the most essential question of the whole matter,” said Andre Platzer, who researches car, aircraft and robotic safety at Carnegie Mellon University. “It’s a very difficult question, how you can know for sure that the system itself is actually really safe.” The emerging presence of robotics is happening in a wide range of disparate fields, so these innovations are largely falling into a regulatory black hole, challenging the way our society is set up to evaluate safety. For example, should driverless cars be regulated by state DMVs or the U.S. Department of Transportation — both of which lack deep knowledge of robotics? What about military robots — should the United Nations develop rules or should each government go its own way? Some are calling for a new government agency in the United States — kind of like a NASA for robots — because traditional agencies lack expertise in the rapidly emerging field.