Robots used to maintain gas pipes could monitor biodiversity

A consultation process involving more than 100 international climate scientists, ecologists and engineers could lead to a major step-change in how we measure life on Earth. 

Led by Synthotech, a company using AI robots to maintain and repair pipework, the work aimed to evaluate the potential of robotics and automated systems [RAS] to improve the scope of terrestrial biodiversity monitoring. 

Robots are capable of being deployed remotely at distance for health and safety reasons, speeding up processes, which could be a significant advantage in biodiversity measurement. Looking across all habitats globally, a ‘monitoring roadmap’ is now being developed to establish what the biggest obstacles to using this technology for biodiversity measurement, and how machines could be applied to the field of climate study. 

A paper, published to the RSA-UK network, has outlined a number of recommendations that could better inform future biodiversity strategies. Among other things, this calls for the creation and funding of an interdisciplinary task force, made up of academics, specialists from the industry with expertise in automation and biodiversity, supporting ongoing technical research and development. 

Simon Langdale, engineering director at Synthotech, said: ‘Ecologists are increasingly calling on the help of robotics and automated systems (RAS) experts to monitor the state of global biodiversity. The project shows just how crucial robotics can be in helping to monitor the planet’s biodiversity so that measures can be put forward for protection and preservation.

‘It’s a real privilege that our work in robotics could help support biodiversity sustainability,’ he continued. ‘We are fortunate in the UK to have particular strengths in biodiversity research and robotics. We are also in an ideal position to integrate these strengths and become a leading force in the development and application of RAS systems. The valuable role that robotics technology and AI have to offer cannot be underestimated in this sphere.’

More on biodiversity:

Quick question: What is the People’s Assembly For Nature?

2024 predictions for climate action in business

Red alert on Global Targets for Nature as Defra ‘in hibernation’


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