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Robots and the Cities of Tomorrow

Written by: URF Marketing Team

As Picasso once said, ‘Everything you imagine is real.’ That statement certainly applies to the evolution of robot technology – from automation to zettabytes and everything in between. The number of robot applications with their diverse features and functionality is astounding. Join us in our upcoming webinar series as we explore the latest in public-area mobile robots; the opportunities they present for municipalities and public facility managers; and how your organization can learn more.

A Huge and Growing Robotics Market

It’s estimated that the global robot market will generate revenues of $37.4 billion (USD) in 2023*, and a large area of this growth will come from robots within the service industry. Within the market for 'service' robots, is a segment the International Standards Organization (ISO**) refers to as 'public-area mobile robots' (PMRs).

PMRs such as food delivery robots get most of the headlines these days, but there are many use cases for the type of micro-utility devices (MUDs), personal delivery devices (PDDs) or PMRs on which the Urban Robotics Foundation is focused. Examples of these types of use cases include robots that perform security and safety, property maintenance, and follow-me services. Are we on the cusp of an evolution? Could robots offer options that align with priorities such as promoting sustainable goods movement, supporting a globally aging workforce and population, or improving a region’s response time to climate related natural disasters? While that remains to be seen, as robots become increasingly common in urban areas around the world, new questions are emerging.

At the Cusp of a New Era

Change can be daunting, and the current scenario with urban robots could be compared to what the world experienced during the introduction of automobiles in the early 20th century. Before vehicles were introduced on public roads, a broad set of rules and laws were necessary. According to Bern Grush, Executive Director of the Urban Robotics Foundation (URF), “If public-area mobile robots are to be deployed at scale, there is an urgent need to develop policies, standards, and regulations. We need to ensure these robots remain safe, acceptable, and collaborative as they are optimized for their complex urban environments.”

Who Cares about Public-area Mobile Robots?

There are many stakeholders who can have a voice in determining best practices for PMRs. With varying perspectives and unique requirements, each can be involved in developing the legal, safety, insurance, and licensing considerations for successful PMR deployment in the cities of the future:

1. Municipalities and public facilities

2. Technology companies

3. Urban planners/ traffic engineers & consultants

4. Researchers and academics

5. Fleet operators

6. Accessibility advocates

Promoting Dialogue and Bridging Connections

Imagine the possibilities for discussion, learning, and collaboration, if a forum existed that brought these key stakeholders together. Is there such a forum? As a matter of fact, yes!

We can help. The Urban Robotics Foundation (URF) is a global, not-for-profit organization consisting of a wide range of PMR stakeholders. We explore the technologies currently being developed and piloted in cities around the world. We support organizations and municipalities as they prepare for and scale urban robot technology solutions.

Are you interested in being a part of these conversations? Are you looking for collaborative opportunities? Do you want to help develop international standards to support successful PMR deployment?

Our public fall webinar calendar will be open for registration shortly, featuring guest speakers from a number of URF member organizations. Member-only events are accessible through our member portal. Connect with us and be a part of shaping sustainable robot solutions for the cities of tomorrow.


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