Climate change is the defining issue of our time. Scientific research predicts that there will be major impacts to all of humanity. It is essential for all of us to work to determine the potential consequences of climate change and to find ways to mitigate the negative effects.
Robotics can be an important resource in this endeavor. Traditionally, robotics has served to increase the economic efficiency of producing products and services, which can increase resources available for fighting climate change. But robotics has the potential to make direct contributions. Three promising areas for robotics to make a difference are in scientific research on climate change, helping to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses that cause climate change, and mitigating climate disasters.
Scientific research on climate relies on the collection of extensive data over large areas of the globe and across long time scales. This can be facilitated by robotic sensors that rove autonomously across the atmosphere and oceans. Data collection can be greatly accelerated by swarms of robots that work in parallel to cover large areas.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions can be facilitated by robotic assistance in renewable energy generation. This includes construction and maintenance of solar power systems, wind towers, and hydroelectric generating stations. In addition, robots can monitor industrial sites for emissions of greenhouse gasses. Robotics is also beginning to play a significant role in agriculture, by enhancing efficiency and reducing the use of chemicals with environmental impacts, and in recycling, by reducing the need to produce new resources.
Mitigating climate disasters requires fast response in unpredictable and unstable environments. Robotic systems can assist in responding to the predicted increase in floods by rescuing victims and assisting with post-flood recovery. Similar roles for robots can apply to wildfires. In addition, robots can help with restoring biological impacts of climate change, for example by planting trees and killing invasive species.
This workshop will showcase current robotics research that addresses climate change, and explore potential future applications. Speakers will include leading robotics researchers who will describe their current research, as well as their vision for future developments. The workshop will conclude with a panel discussion that evaluates which areas hold the most promise for impact on climate change.