Posted on 22 June 2022
Their findings identify key opportunities and threats that need to be considered while developing, deploying and governing robotics and autonomous systems.
According to the report, major opportunities include the potential to support and enhance human activities, foster innovation and supercharge research and development. Threats include reinforcing inequalities and exacerbating environmental changes.
Technological advancements have already profoundly altered how economies operate and relationships between people, society and environments . Robotics and autonomous systems are reshaping the world, changing healthcare, food production and biodiversity management.
The research, published in Nature Communications, is the first to systematically consider the potential positive and negative impact of these developments on the delivery of SDGs. It involved a horizon scan, with more than 102 experts from around the world participating in online surveys, group discussions and workshops.
Co-author of the report, Professor Lindsay Stringer from the Department of Environment and Geography at the University of York, said: “Our study highlights how we need to take a really close look at examining developments in robotics and autonomous systems in the early stages of design and development in order to ensure we head off any detrimental consequences, as well as make sure that we aren't missing valuable opportunities for their deployment.”
Lead author of the report, Dr Solène Guenat who carried out the research while at the University of Leeds, added “Robotics and autonomous systems are here to stay and will fundamentally transform how we interact with one another, technology and the environment.
“This transformation offers many potential benefits for sustainable development. However, realising those benefits while minimising unintended consequences is a complex challenge. Early identification of possible negative impacts along with early collaboration and continued dialogue across stakeholders will help us seize opportunities while avoiding pitfalls.”
Major opportunities identified by the report are:
Potential threats identified by the report are:
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Meeting Sustainable Development Goals via Robotics and Autonomous Systems is published in Nature Communications.