Editorial Feature

How Can Robots Help Fight Climate Change?

It is important to understand climate change before we put into place measures to prevent its debilitating effects. We need to understand the processes that affect the climate, in what areas we can bring about change, how we measure these changes, and what other solutions are available that are deliverable to remote and inaccessible places.

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These goals are far too ambitious to be carried out directly by the humans; mankind depends on technology to achieve such milestones. Robotic technology is the new industrial revolution taking hold in almost all facets of science and business.  These robots are now used to help offset the effects of climate change.

Creating Robots that can Live and Procure Data in Natural Habitats

Taking inspiration from living organisms, robotic scientists are creating robots that can live and procure data in natural habitats. Swiss robotic scientist Auke Ijspeert and his team from the Biorobotics Laboratory have built a sinuous robot called the Envirobot. Using movements inspired by lampreys and eels, the Envirobot detects water pollution, collects water samples, and finally creates a map of pollution. Such information will help reveal the effect of global warming on water supplies and allow scientists to advise policy makers.

In other areas, robotic jellyfishes have been designed to collect data form the ocean to help understand climate change and robotic plants have been developed with a mini 3D printer to help roots to grow, allowing researchers to study plant soil.

Ocean One from Stanford Robotics Lab

At Stanford Robotics Lab, a humanoid robot has been developed to explore the ocean and also collect samples for research and analysis. ‘Ocean One’ has been used to study deep coral reefs had has helped reveal how global warming has affected the ocean ecosystem at significant depths.

Numerous robots are used when large and diverse data collections are required, such as swarm robots which significantly reduce the cost and time spent. Most of these robots are also designed with in-built panels for harvesting solar and tidal energy to meet their energy requirements.

Drones have become extremely prevalent in recent time and have become a major tool in the fight against climate change. Drones assist in scientific data collection and have been used to fight dwindling bee populations, reduce carbon emissions, track wildlife populations and activities, gather water and air samples, and monitor deforestation, tree health and agricultural expansion. Drones are also used in nature conservation to combat wildlife crime, especially in remote and inaccessible areas. For example, environmental systems researcher Lian Pin Koh uses his drones to track orangutan nests and monitor the species population in remote parts of Indonesian rainforest.

Measures and approaches such as seed planting, clean energy industry implementation, eating pollution from water, removal of river trash and killing invasive species are all carried out with the help of robots to protect species and our environment. Robotic technology has become indispensable in the battle against climate change.

References

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Dr. Ramya Dwivedi

Written by

Dr. Ramya Dwivedi

Ramya has a Ph.D. in Biotechnology from the National Chemical Laboratories (CSIR-NCL), in Pune. Her work consisted of functionalizing nanoparticles with different molecules of biological interest, studying the reaction system and establishing useful applications.

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