Robotics, Automation Could Support Sustainable Development – Advanced Manufacturing

Robotics, Automation Could Support Sustainable Development – Advanced Manufacturing

Science and technology go hand in hand in solving the world’s problems, and robotics and automation are the latest innovations set to tackle one of our biggest issues: poverty.

The number of people developing advanced technologies, such as robotics and artificial intelligence, to provide creative solutions to real-world challenges is on the rise.

Robots could help communities assess soil condition, check the health of plants and animals and cultivate or harvest crops.

Technological development relies on creative initiatives from companies, entrepreneurs and educational institutes to tackle crises. To solve these global issues, technologists also need to work with the people affected by them to understand the issues at hand. With a clear understanding of influencing factors, new technologies can be developed to tackle the problems head on.

The development of this new technology can draw on a number of innovative fields, such as big data, the internet of things (IoT), synthetic biology, 3D printing, quantum computing and drones to name a few. But it is robotics and automation which are making waves

Developing Community Robots

In the developed world, robotics and automation are predominantly used in large-scale applications, commonly in industrial settings performing tasks such as product assembly or welding. Personal robots are much less common, as many have limited functionality or are expensive.  In more remote and less-developed locations, low numbers of personal robots that provide a valuable service could be particularly useful in improving health or agriculture for a community.

In this environment, the robot could act not as a personal robot, but as a community robot – performing specific, important functions on a small scale to benefit a group. This type of robot could increase quality of life for local people, and help develop more sustainable, healthy and safe communities. Potential functions include increasing accessibility to healthcare, performing agricultural work, checking the quality of water or solving design challenges.

The reasons a robot could benefit a community are similar to the reasons they benefit industrial environments so greatly — robots are precise, strong and accurate. These characteristics can be put to use in different ways to suit a particular community’s needs. Once these have been identified, an engineer can develop a robot with the appropriate characteristics.

For example, if it is particularly necessary that the community reduces waste, one solution could be the development of a robot to increase recycling by sensing the contents of different plastics using spectroscopy.

Alternatively, if there is a lack of clean water, a robot could be designed to monitor contamination. In agriculture, communities could use robots to assess soil condition, check the health of plants and animals and cultivate or harvest crops. These are just a few ways that robots could be deployed to increase the quality of life for those living in developing countries.

Design Considerations

One company that is working with local partners to develop robotics for health and environmental applications is We Robotics. The company co-creates local innovation labs, known as Flying Labs, to help partners identify if robotics solutions may help to overcome the community’s problems. If a solution is viable, We Robotics works with technology partners to deploy technology for local applications, including transportation and …….


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