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A global horizon scan of the future impacts of robotics and autonomous systems on urban ecosystems

Goddard, Mark A., Davies, Zoe G., Guenat, Solène, Ferguson, Mark J., Fisher, Jessica C., Akanni, Adeniran, Ahjokoski, Teija, Anderson, Pippin M.L., Angeoletto, Fabio, Antoniou, Constantinos, and others. (2021) A global horizon scan of the future impacts of robotics and autonomous systems on urban ecosystems. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 2021 . E-ISSN 2397-334X. (doi:10.1038/s41559-020-01358-z) (KAR id:85313)


Technology is transforming societies worldwide. A significant innovation is the emergence of robotics and autonomous systems (RAS), which have the potential to revolutionise cities for both people and nature. Nonetheless, the opportunities and challenges associated with RAS for urban ecosystems have yet to be considered systematically. Here, we report the findings of an online horizon scan involving 170 expert participants from 35 countries. We conclude that RAS are likely to transform land-use, transport systems and human-nature interactions. The prioritised opportunities were primarily centred on the deployment of RAS for monitoring and management of biodiversity and ecosystems. Fewer challenges were prioritised. Those that were emphasised concerns surrounding waste from unrecovered RAS, and the quality and interpretation of RAS-collected data. Although the future impacts of RAS for urban ecosystems are hard to predict, examining potentially important developments early is essential if we are to avoid detrimental consequences, but fully realise the benefits.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1038/s41559-020-01358-z
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Signature Themes: Food Systems, Natural Resources and Environment
Funders: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (
European Research Council (
Depositing User: Zoe Davies
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2021 18:59 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2023 14:24 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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