Urbanism Lecture Series, Session 2 - Robotic Restructuring: Ecology and Climate

UI - Robot Restructuring Ecology Climates

Event details

Wednesday 18 October 2023
Attendance online: £FOC


Robots are moving out of the closed environments of laboratories, factories, and hospitals to augment and replace the maintenance and management of human and non-human life as part of a broader process of societal and ecological automation. Robotic delivery vehicles, driverless cars, service robots and police drones and robots are starting to appear on the streets and in the skies of cities. Robots are being used to monitor, augment, and reshape nature, ecology and climatic process via robotic insects, automated agriculture, and many other robotic entities.

This lecture series explores the impact and implications of robotic applications and new cyborg environments for human and non-human life in different global contexts. For example, how do we grasp the impact of robotics and robots, as robot-enabled automation moves out of enclosed environments and comes to mediate social, ecological, and infrastructural relations? What is unfolding in terms of robotic restructuring and mediation? What is on the horizon? What matters and why?

The lecture series will be of interest to anyone interested in the future of cities, climate change, ecology and the prospects for ever more sophisticated AI-enabled robots and automation.


  • Professor Simon Marvin (University of Sheffield and University of Sydney)
  • Chair: Aidan While (Urban Institute, University of Sheffield, UK)

Robotics and automated systems are set to transform economic, social, and political life at a time of climate turbulence and ecological change. However there has been limited critical research within urban studies on the relationship between robotics and ecological change. How will robotics and automation intersect with climate change and resource constraints, and to whose benefit and with what contradictions? The second lecture will explore different efforts to constitute spaces of responsive adaptation through new operational ecosystems. Drawing on examples from experimental agri-tech platforms, localised systems of urban climate control, new techniques of ecological management and conservation and the use of advanced robotics to open up new resource frontiers, the lecture will provide an overview of the emerging urban landscape of robotically-enabled ecologies. It explores the key controversies about how robotics and automated systems will diminish, augment and/or transform the future development of urban responses for governing environmental turbulence.

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