Meeting sustainable development goals via robotics and autonomous systems

Solène Guenat, Phil Purnell, Zoe G. Davies, Maximilian Nawrath, Lindsay Stringer, G. Babu, Muniyandi Balasubramanian, Erica E.F. Ballantyne, Bhuvana Kolar Bylappa, Bei Chen, Peta De Jager, Andrea Del Prete, Alessandro Di Nuovo, Cyril O. EhiEromosele, Mehran Eskandari Torbaghan, Karl L. Evans, Markus Fraundorfer, Wissem Haouas, Josephat Izunobi, Juan Carlos Jauregui-CorreaBilal Kaddouh, Sonia Lewycka, Ana C. MacIntosh, Christine Mady, Carsten Maple, Worku N. Mhiret, Rozhen Kamal Mohammed-Amin, Olukunle Charles Olawole, Temilola Oluseyi, Caroline Orfila, Alessandro Ossola, Marion Pfeifer, Tony P. Pridmore, Moti L. Rijal, Christine C. Rega-Brodsky, Ian D. Robertson, Chris Rogers, Charles Rougé, Maryam B. Rumaney, Mmabaledi K. Seeletso, Mohammed Z. Shaqura, L. M. Suresh, Martin N. Sweeting, Nick Taylor Buck, M.U. Ukwuru, Thomas Verbeek, Hinrich Voss, Zia Wadud, Xinjun Wang, Neil Winn, Martin Dallimer

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Robotics and autonomous systems are reshaping the world, changing healthcare, food production and biodiversity management. While they will play a fundamental role in delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals, associated opportunities and threats are yet to be considered systematically. We report on a horizon scan evaluating robotics and autonomous systems impact on all Sustainable Development Goals, involving 102 experts from around the world. Robotics and autonomous systems are likely to transform how the Sustainable Development Goals are achieved, through replacing and supporting human activities, fostering innovation, enhancing remote access and improving monitoring. Emerging threats relate to reinforcing inequalities, exacerbating environmental change, diverting resources from tried-and-tested solutions and reducing freedom and privacy through inadequate governance. Although predicting future impacts of robotics and autonomous systems on the Sustainable Development Goals is difficult, thoroughly examining technological developments early is essential to prevent unintended detrimental consequences. Additionally, robotics and autonomous systems should be considered explicitly when developing future iterations of the Sustainable Development Goals to avoid reversing progress or exacerbating inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3559
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2022


  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • robotics and autonomous systems


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