Georgia Institute of Technology scientists have conducted experiments in what is believed to be the first detailed examination of robot deception, a university release said.
Robots capable of deception could be useful in several different areas, including military and search-and-rescue operations, the researchers say.
A search-and-rescue robot might need to deceive panicking victims in order to calm them or receive cooperation, they say.
Battlefield robots with the power of deception would be able to hide and mislead the enemy to keep themselves and their valuable information safe.
"Most social robots will probably rarely use deception, but it's still an important tool in the robot's interactive arsenal because robots that recognize the need for deception have advantages in terms of outcome compared to robots that do not recognize the need for deception," Georgia Tech research engineer Alan Wagner said.
But creating robots with the capacity to deceive raises ethical implications that need to be considered, the researchers admit.
"We have been concerned from the very beginning with the ethical implications related to the creation of robots capable of deception and we understand that there are beneficial and deleterious aspects," Ronald Arkin, a professor in the Georgia Tech School of Interactive Computing, said.
"We strongly encourage discussion about the appropriateness of deceptive robots to determine what, if any, regulations or guidelines should constrain the development of these systems," he said.