How Robotics Can Be Used To Reduce Our Carbon Footprint

How Robotics Can Be Used To Reduce Our Carbon Footprint

October 08, 2019

Robotic technology combined with artificial intelligence (AI)-powered applications are working together to help policy-makers, manufacturers and key industry stakeholders manage and even reduce their carbon footprints. In fact, according to PwC and Microsoft, AI is projected to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by four per cent in 2030, which is equivalent to 2.4 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. 

Vector recycling factory and automated robot sorting process


Undoubtedly, robotics are already transforming the manufacturing sector. Operating in a world that is constantly threatened by severe climate change and increasing greenhouse gas emissions, key stakeholders must now leverage this technology to mitigate these damaging effects and ensure their industry remains future-proof. 

Below are just a few of the ways robotics are being leveraged to reduce the proverbial carbon footprint across industries.

Sending Robots Where Humans Cannot Go

Perhaps the most prolific example of this has been the initiative to send robots to the ocean floor to collect samples and clean-up the microplastics found on the seafloor. Defined as measuring five milimetres across, more microplastics have been discovered hundreds of metres down than in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is the world’s largest accumulation of ocean plastic. More startling has been the discovery of these microplastics within the fish and other animals sampled as part of the study, suggesting that the plastics have become a part of the food chain. 

The study’s researchers used underwater robots equipped with sampling devices to filter plastic particles out of the seawater in two different locations at various depths in Monterey Bay. The researchers have another study planned to make use of the robots to collect more information in other deep-water locations. 

Similarly, 12-year-old Anna Du of Andover, Massachusetts has developed a pollution-detecting and water-cleaning robot that uses infrared light to detect microplastics. 

These findings would not have been possible without the robots, as it would have been significantly more difficult and expensive to send humans to the same depths. Uncovering these findings ensure proper policies can be put in place to mitigate the effects of microplastics and clean them up from our oceans. 

On a smaller, consumer level, robots have been designed to perform daily household chores, such as mowing the lawn, cleaning pools and grills, saving the average consumer time and energy. 

Robots Work With Improved Efficiency

It’s no secret that robots can often perform the same tasks as their human counterparts with higher efficiency. This doesn’t, however, necessarily spell a displacement of human employees, rather, robots can be used to make humans and workplaces more efficient. 

When robots replace manual labor, the overall productivity increases dramatically due to the high level of precision and quality. However, ingenuity and innovation are still human traits that are necessary to help businesses and manufacturers thrive. A report from the McKinsey Global Institute suggests that rather than completely disappearing, many jobs across industries will simply involve new forms of cooperation between man and machine. Using robots to perform mundane, routine tasks 24/7 guarantees the same result every time, which is not possible with human workers. By using robots to replace these tedious tasks, employees can focus on social interactions, management and applying their expertise within the workplace. 

Companies that adopt robots can deliver high-quality products using fewer resources with fewer errors, which translates into economic growth and less waste.

Robots Remove & Mitigate Error

Given that robots are increasingly tasked with completing many tedious and menial tasks within the workplace, they are also able to remove and mitigate human error commonly associated with these tasks. Removing the threat of this error and subsequent clean-up inevitably saves companies and manufacturers time and money. It also saves on manufacturing waste and resources, reducing the company’s carbon footprint

It’s important to note, however, that robots are not free from error. While they may not be plagued by human bias and misconceptions, they must be programmed and installed by humans who are susceptible to making mistakes during any phase of the implementation process. 

However, any robotic errors a manufacturer or business may experience are likely predictable, because they are systematic and modeled, unlike that of humans. Thus, key stakeholders will be able to mitigate and address these errors more quickly and efficiently than human errors, eliminating wasted resources. 

Undoubtedly, the proliferation and implementation of robotic technology will help companies and manufacturers across industries reduce their carbon footprints through increased efficiency, mitigation of error and leveraging robots to perform tasks humans could not otherwise do. An increasing number of companies will continue to use robotic technology to ensure the longevity of their business, which spells the growth of the robotic technician job market. Robotics technicians will play an integral role in the implementation and maintenance of these robots and will spearhead the campaigns to reduce their company’s carbon footprint. To kickstart or supplement your exciting career as a robotics technician, get in touch with our Program Consultant by email, or by phone toll-free at 1-888-553-5333.

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