Climate change is a topic that’s discussed more and more frequently as the effects of human interactions with the planet begin to manifest. There has been a rise in natural disasters and temperature fluctuations. The previous balance that existed in ecosystems is now deteriorating, and the solutions to mitigate further problems are now delving into the realm of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).

Robotics have typically just been used for efficiency’s sake when producing products and various services. The use of robotics has now expanded to include sustainability. Different kinds of robots are being built to tackle the unique challenges of sustainable production.

Robotics and Climate Change

Robotics has recently been seen to directly impact our ability to deal with the threat of climate change and handle the challenges we already face. Robots offer a great source of data, as they can go where humans cannot, like into the air or the ocean. Data has been critical when studying the effects of climate change and predicting what may happen in the future.

Robots have been used in several areas to combat climate-related issues such as wildfires, ocean pollution, and toxic environments. Each type of robot tackles a different problem, but with this same idea, robotics can conquer many of the environmental issues that society faces and will continue to face.

Robotics are used in the production of renewable energy sources such as solar power and wind turbines. Robots can now monitor greenhouse gas emissions as well. The role that robotics plays in fighting climate change provides more than just a physical component. They can use predictive capabilities to mitigate climate disasters.

Supply Chain Sustainability

Delivery comes at the push of a button. Whether you’re getting shipments to your house or your business, those products had to go through multiple points in a supply chain. Shipping goods uses a large amount of energy and resources and represents much of the impact that supply chains have on the environment. Supply chains are already full of inventive machinery and are no stranger to new technologies that improve efficiency.

Robotics and AI have both played an enormous role in minimizing waste in supply chains. AI has helped in areas such as demand forecasting and planning activities. Robots are now a part of many warehousing facilities, too. Robots come in the form of drones for last-mile delivery or can even replace humans in inventory management. The very foundations of many warehouse facilities are built using robotic layout technology so machines and humans can work in safe proximity with one another. These precise order-picking or material-handling robots maximize productivity and efficiency, saving energy that might otherwise be ill-spent.

Sustainable Agriculture

As the world’s population continues to grow, so will the need for more food. Producing food at a high rate has contributed to overfarming and destroying one of the most essential resources: topsoil. In addition, the agriculture industry has seen a decline in workers.

How robotics can revolutionize sustainability? A mechanical engineer with sustainable agricultural robot in field
How robotics can revolutionize sustainability? A mechanical engineer with a sustainable agricultural robot in the field. Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Artificial intelligence has enhanced a time-consuming and laborious occupation. Machines can traverse and process a field of products faster, more efficiently, and for much greater periods of time than human fieldhands. This use of AI has created almost completely self-driving machines to harvest and plant crops.

Introducing more advanced robotics systems into agriculture has dramatically improved the efficiency of machines and has reduced the otherwise harsh effects on the environment.

The Future of Sustainability

We are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, known as Industry 4.0. Robots are slowly taking over more mundane tasks and increasing efficiency and productivity in nearly every industry. The use of robots will only increase over the years as new technologies arise and enterprises choose to let robotics play an even greater role.

Expanding the use of robotics will eventually cause specific low-reward jobs to be obsolete, but in their place will be new opportunities to specialize in repairing and operating these machines. Ultimately, to improve our world’s ecosystems and mitigate future climate change problems, we must embrace the use of robots and move forward with the idea of a sustainable future.

Evelyn Long

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