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The Role of Robotics in Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable AI, Data & Robotics

MAR 2022

Abstract

The development and deployment of robotic technologies can have an important role in efforts to achieve the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—with both enabling and inhibiting impacts. During a workshop at the 2021 IEEE/Robotics Society of Japan International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2021), experts from various disciplines analyzed the role of robotics in achieving the SDGs. This article provides a summary of the most important outcomes of the workshop. During the workshop panels, the variety of roles that robots can play in enabling the SDGs was underlined. The panelists discussed the challenges to the adoption of robots and to their deployment at their full potential. The probable undesirable effects of robots were also considered, and the panelists suggested approaches to correctly design SDG-relevant robotic solutions. Governance frameworks were also discussed, with respect to their contents as well as the challenges to build them. The role of military funding was briefly analyzed. Finally, several proposals for actions and policies were made. The contents of the workshop, including contributing papers and videos from the panelists, as well as additional information about future initiatives regarding robotics and the SDGs, are available at www.sustainablerobotics.org.

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Bram VanderborghtCarl Mörch

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