Robots Help Reaching UN Goals of Sustainable Development. International Federation of Robotics (IFR) reports.

FRANKFURT, Germany-May 05, 2022 – The use of robots plays an important role in reaching the sustainable development goals set out by the United Nations (17 SDGs). The International Federation of Robotics identified 13 SDGs, where robots help to create a better planet.

“The use of robots responds to the UN´s call for action,” says Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). “The IFR supports the United Nations´ sustainable development goals. There are fantastic new ways in which robots save resources and produce green technologies of the future.”

“Intelligent automation helps battery technology achieve a breakthrough in e-mobility,” says Dr Susanne Bieller, General Secretary of the International Federation of Robotics. “At the same time, highly efficient production technology reduces CO2-emissions.”

SDGs_overview_graph
Sustainable Development Goals relevant for robotics

Electricity and solar heat – Clean Energy(UN´s SDG 7):

Solar heat and electricity are energies of the future: Keeping pace with booming customer demand for solar panels and reflectors means being able to produce units in greater quantities.

Industrial robots are now used as part of an automated factory production line in Sweden. Solar energy company Absolicon has developed what it sees as a gamechanger for the widespread adoption of solar heat as an energy source: A parabolic reflector focuses the solar irradiation on a receiver and turns it into steam with a temperature of up to 160 degrees for the use in industrial production. Almost all industries require heat for production processes. The solar collector´s emission-saving potential: every square meter of a solar thermal collector can produce the equivalent energy of 100 liters of oil.

Solar collectors made by Absolicon © Absolicon
Solar collectors made by Absolicon © Absolicon

The automation at Absolicon´s factory in Härnösand using two ABB robots has increased production drastically. Where the company previously produced three solar collectors per day with manual production methods, the newly installed robotic production line now has the capacity to produce a finished collector every six minutes.

Prepare-to-repair – Industrial Innovation (UN´s SDG 9)

Prepare-to-repair is a successful strategy for robot manufacturers and their customers to save costs and resources. In order to keep the large number of spare parts in stock, Japanese robot manufacturer Fanuc e.g. runs a central warehouse for Europe. It is located in Luxembourg and has the size of a football pitch with 600,000 spare parts on stock. Manufacturers like ABB, Fanuc, KUKA or Yaskawa also all run dedicated repair centers where thousands of industrial robots are refurbished and upgraded for a second life.

ABB robot in the production line of Absolicon © ABB Robotics
ABB robot in the production line of Absolicon © ABB Robotics

Robots eliminate chemical agents – Smart Agriculture(UN´s SDG 2)

In agriculture, new field robots eliminate the use of chemical agents. These agricultural robots travel slowly up and down the rows of crops. Equipped with cameras and artificial intelligence software, they are able to locate weeds and burn them

In agriculture, new field robots eliminate the use of chemical agents. These agricultural robots travel slowly up and down the rows of crops. Equipped with cameras and artificial intelligence software, they are able to locate weeds and burn them selectively with a laser shot. The new technology does not only completely eliminate the use of herbicides. Organic farmers now have an alternative to a related process called “flaming” using propane torches to kill weeds. Flaming could only operate before crops were planted – otherwise it would also have killed the crops.

The Fraunhofer EZRT research center and partners equipped a farming robot with navigation technology for mechanical weed control in sugar beets. The BlueBob 2.0 also does the job autonomously, so that farmers can devote their time to tasks with higher added value than manual or chemical weeding. Since manual weeding is a very tedious task for humans, the new technology also helps to improve the conditions of farm work. Taking over dirty, dull, and dangerous tasks is something robots excel at.

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