Drones, robots and autonomous systems can transform the natural world in and around cities for people and wildlife, new research has found.
International research, including contributions from Dr Stuart Connop, senior research fellow at the University of East London's Sustainability Research Institute, assessed the opportunities for this cutting-edge technology to make an impact - positive and negative - on urban nature and green spaces.
The researchers, led by the University of Leeds, highlighted opportunities to improve how we monitor nature, such as ensuring plants are cared for and identifying emerging pests.
As robotics, autonomous vehicles and drones become more widely used across cities, pollution and traffic congestion may reduce, making towns and cities more pleasant places.
The researchers also warned that advances in robotics and automation could have damaging side-effects.
Robots and drones might generate new sources of waste and pollution themselves. Cities might have to be re-planned to provide room for robots and drones to operate, potentially leading to a loss of green space. And they could also increase existing social inequalities, such as unequal access to green space.
Dr Connop said,