A Robotic Revolution For Urban Nature

news
12/01/2021

Drones, robots and autonomous systems can transform the natural world in and around cities for people and wildlife.

International research, involving over 170 experts and led by the University of Leeds, assessed the opportunities and challenges that this cutting-edge technology could have for urban nature and green spaces.

The researchers highlighted opportunities to improve how we monitor nature, such as identifying emerging pests and ensuring plants are cared for, and helping people engage with and appreciate the natural world around them.

As robotics, autonomous vehicles and drones become more widely used across cities, pollution and traffic congestion may reduce, making towns and cities more pleasant places to spend time outside.

But the researchers also warned that advances in robotics and automation could be damaging to the environment.

For instance, robots and drones might generate new sources of waste and pollution themselves, with potentially substantial negative implications for urban nature. Cities might have to be re-planned to provide enough room for robots and drones to operate, potentially leading to a loss of green space. And they could also increase existing social inequalities, such as unequal access to green space.

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