Robots play a role in environmental conservation

As the world reflects on its efforts to tackle global warming, some individuals and organizations are developing new strategies to reduce the world's carbon footprint.

Robots play a role in environmental conservation

Using technology, for instance, the use of robots has enabled various countries to adapt sustainably in their means of production and waste management.

But what kind of robots do they use? Are they more efficient than human labor? and how much have they contributed to conserving the environment?

This article gives a general introduction to the robots combating climate change. However, I will be discussing more details of these robots in subsequent articles.

Robots clearing trash from water bodies

According to a recent study, an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic waste pollute the sea, 269,000 floats, 70% end up on the seafloor while the rest end up on land, most of the plastic waste comes from river inlets.

With the presence of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of trash that covers a surface area of 1.6 million square kilometers, it is safe to conclude that the study was very accurate.

 Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Image credits: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

But how do we get rid of trash from our water bodies?

It is a challenging task. For instance, we can use boats. As easy as it seems, it needs special equipment, human resources, and fuel to operate.

Even so, it will take a lot of time and money. But there are better alternatives like automated vessels.

It sounds like fiction, yet such vessels are already operational, for example, The Interceptor by The Ocean Cleanup. The Interceptor is an automated solar-powered vessel that uses a conveyor belt system to gather litter from river inlets.

Interceptor 004 in the Rio Ozama, Dominican Republic, summer 2020

Image credits: The Ocean Cleanup

Still, some trash ends up on the seafloor, and it is quite challenging getting it out. That's why a team of European organizations is working on a system of automated robots that use object recognition to identify and collect waste from the seafloor, called SeaClear.

Robots combating soil pollution

Soil has been a vital resource in the agricultural and construction industry for generations. However, its significance has begun to dwindle.

About 75% of the earth's land is degrading. The deserts are expanding, soil erosion is frequent, and the soil's nutrients are fading.

People walking on degraded land

Image Credits: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

But there is still hope. Using modern-day technology, various stakeholders in these industries have been developing new sustainable agricultural and construction practices.

Robots are one of the many technologies that are part of the solution. For instance, using robots like Romu that insert interlocking sheets into the ground to help stabilize the soil, preventing erosion.

Robot placing blocks in the sand

Image Credits: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

In addition to that, we can use robots to precisely administer optimal levels of water, fertilizer and monitor the yield of each crop like Iron Ox.

Robots planting trees

Trees are essential for the planet's survival. They act as natural habitats for animals, produce oxygen, and drastically reduce erosion. However, the worldwide tree population is declining at a rapid rate.

46% of the world's trees have fallen over the past 12,000 years. Various factors like wildfires and deforestation contribute to the decline of forest vegetation.

The decline has contributed to the extinction of various tree species, long periods of drought, and flooding.

Planting one trillion trees is one way to solve this issue.

Is it possible? I mean, the world's human population is estimated to be 7.9 billion, every human has to plant 126 trees. That's a lot of trees.

Hence more effort is required to achieve this goal. In today's technological era, where the possibilities are infinite, we can reach this goal much sooner than anticipated. This concept is already coming to reality.

Robots are helping us work towards achieving the one trillion mark.

For example, the Multiscope Forester Planter by Milrem Robotics can plant 380 seedlings within a period of between five to six hours per hectare of land, depending on the tree species and the terrain.

 An image of the Multiscope forester planter

Image credits: Milrem Robotics

Robots in waste management

Accumulation of litter contributes to a majority of the world's pollution. When plastic waste is not disposed of correctly, it ends up in sewer lines and other drainage systems, later finds its way into our oceans.

It is better to dispose of litter in the designated bins. Waste management companies use human labour to sort recyclable waste. The process is economically unviable and introduces more risk to the employees.

Some waste management companies have begun to train their employees to use automated systems like AMP Cortex. AMP Cortex is a high-speed artificial intelligent robotic system developed by AMP robotics.

 An image showing AMP robotics in action

Image Credits: AMP Robotics

It uses object recognition to sort, pick and place various types of plastics and metals. Automation makes recycling effortless and a profitable business venture.

In conclusion

The robots featured in this article contain zero emissions. Robotic technology is good at what they do, but they still require human operators to guide them.

Having said so, it is humanity's responsibility to take care of our environment. You can always contribute by joining the #TeamSeas and #TeamTrees movements.

Taking care of the environment is fun.

PS: Watch this video and see how big of a difference we can make if we work together:

Footage Source: Mark Rober

Remember, you might have backup for your selfies but there is no backup for planet earth.