How AI will help us live more sustainably

How AI will help us live more sustainably

21 October 2019


Artificial intelligence has been described as a huge compliment to human intelligence, helping us crunch numbers and make sense of tedious data in seconds.

It might not seem it on the surface – but the technology can also help us meet our sustainability goals.

Slowly but surely, it’s becoming one of our greatest assets.

From monitoring to data capture, AI can help us protect our natural environment – and get more out of it.

How? Let’s take a closer look.

Autonomous transportation

A good place to start is transportation, as artificial intelligence will revolutionise the way we get around. The future of transport will be extremely different to how it looks today.

AI will make autonomous vehicles possible by helping them navigate efficiently, mapping and planning the best routes. This will significantly aid with traffic and congestion issues. As a result, this would reduce oil consumption related to greenhouse emissions by 2-4% overall.

Artificial intelligence can also help enable autonomous ride-sharing services, meaning there will be fewer cars on our roads.

What’s more, many of these vehicles will be electric, dramatically reducing our use of harmful fossil fuels.

Combined, this means we can help combat climate change, assisting the UK in meeting its target to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 under the Climate Change Act.

With the constant advances in technology, this future is closer than some may think. For innovators, this presents a number of exciting AI opportunities to take advantage of.

Optimising farming processes

From the early detection of crop diseases to autonomous tractors, agriculture is to benefit hugely from intelligent technology.

Machine learning in combination with robotics is set to revolutionise our farming system. We can expect to see:

  • Automated data collection to optimise farming processes (detecting the best time to plant, for example)
  • Increased land protection
  • Observation drones
  • Effective plant disease protection
  • Erosion monitoring
  • Animal migration tracking

All of this and more will be enabled thanks to AI.

There are many benefits to our planet that result from this, including the reduction of fertiliser use, as AI will be able to detect the best times for spraying. The result? An increase in organic produce and earth-friendly crops.

Climate prediction

Currently, we use satellites to predict and monitor our climate. However, the introduction of AI will help take this to the next level.

Machines can process and make sense of critical data much quicker and more efficiently than humans. The data collected will also be much more accurate.

This will help us respond to natural disasters or significant weather changes before they happen. As well as this, the technology can help us use renewable energy sources more efficiently; if there’s no sun but plenty of wind, we can plan to use solar energy systems over wind turbines.

Enabling smart cities

We need to get more out of the places we live and work. They should not only be efficient and keep up with modern demands, but they should also be sustainable. AI will help us design these connected, liveable, intelligent cities.

Machine learning can help us with town planning, ensuring that the area has been designed in the best possible way. This includes optimising routes to reduce congestion and mapping out dedicated areas for cyclists.

The Internet of Things will be hugely pivotal here. This technology can do everything from increasing the safety of citizens to coordinating street maintenance. AI will work in connection with IoT, collecting data and helping to ensure it is as efficient as possible.

Just some of the things we can expect to see in our smart cities include:

  • User-friendly building access for disabled people
  • Improved air and water quality
  • Remotely connected CCTV
  • Automated incident detection
  • Smart street lighting
  • Reduced congestion
  • Autonomous transport

Together, this will all help to reduce our carbon footprint and ensure we receive more from our built environment.

What’s Next?

While there’s more to be done in terms of progress, artificial intelligence will help us achieve our sustainable living goals. But we need to come together to improve these systems. Worldwide business collaboration will be integral to ensuring we get there.

Article submitted by Innovate UK

Photo by Karsten Würth (@karsten.wuerth) on Unsplash

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