User and product analysis
As concluded previously, manual artificial reforestation is at the moment the most effective way for a National Park to regrow the plants of its original natural scenery, based on the criteria we deemed important, but the use of robots could make this method even better because it still has some drawbacks. Even though this makes it seem like the plans for the to-be-designed robot are clear-cut, a broader analysis should first be made. This analysis should take the to-be-designed product out of the concept of being a tool for reforestation and put it in the broader picture which is our reality, and it should investigate the robots influences on it. Beyond this, the robot is also influenced by many factors and actors, which also need to be investigated. In order to keep this analysis compact and effective, it has been narrowed down to the robot's interaction with three groups. The National Park, being the main owner of the product, the companies selling and developing the robot, to be referred to as enterprise, and society as a whole.
This wiki page will explain the above-mentioned relations and analyze their effects. General information regarding the project can be found at PRE2017 4 Groep6.
Deforestation due to fires is an international problem with huge and devastating consequences which includes but not limits to soil erosion, water cycle disruption and greenhouse gas emissions (Cook, 2018) . This results in a loss of biodiversity and this will also influence human lives. Greenhouse gas emissions for example contribute to global climate changes. As national parks span a significant part of natural forest worldwide (National Park Service, 2017)  a reduction in their area by forest fires would result in these consequences happening in and around the National Park. When no actions are taken against deforestation, the problems arising will grow beyond controllable proportions over the years. Society is currently looking for solutions to these problems (Greenpeace, 2018)  but no clear-cut solution without drawbacks, has been found yet. The development of the to-be-designed robot offers new perspectives on how to handle reforestation efficiently, getting society closer to a solution to solve the problem of deforestation. Even though the to-be-designed robot has the potential to be received enthusiastically by people, there are also a lot of expectations enforced on the robot by society. These expectations range from not being made by slave-children to not polluting the air while planting new trees and having a carbon-neutral production process and many more aspects. The first one is a tad extreme, but it does show that in developing a new technology, attention has to be paid to what society considers 'normal'. A better example might be that during the production of the robot waste materials should be recycled, as this is a standard within society at present day. Many of those expectations from society apply to the production of the robot, and not to its design specifications. Regardless, it is wise to keep society’s heavy bias and influence in mind when designing new technology, as the design partially determines the production process.
The National Parks
Probably the most obvious group to be related to the to-be-designed robot is the National Parks themselves. It will be them who will eventually buy and use the robots, which should therefore be built to fulfill the parks wishes as completely as possible. Within societal and financial limits, the development of the robot should focus mostly on what the National Parks want from the robot, which is restoring biodiversity in an effective and non-disruptive manner. On the other hand, the robot, once finished completely, will have a big influence on National Parks. As the robot is made to solve one of the National Parks main problems. Because National Parks are owned by governments and the land is most often not used by private individuals or third parties, little to no conflict of interest can arise, such that robot needs only to adhere to the National parks' wishes.
A totally different influence the National Parks have on the robot design is the idea that the national Parks will want the robot to be easy to handle. After all, their rangers (or whomever they decide to put in charge of reforestation) will have to tell the robots where to plant. This means that the rangers need to have an understanding of how the robot can be controlled, demanding an 'easy to control' robot. In order to further study the influence the parks have on the robot, a list of requirements is made, consisting of everything the robot needs to be able to do for it to conform to what the park needs from the final product.
The companies building, selling and developing the robots naturally have a considerable leverage in the development of the robot. Usually, the influence between the product and the producing company is one of financial origin. Beyond requiring the product to be designed cheaper rather than more expensive, a company will allow a product to be designed as long as it has sufficient demand, profitability and a strong position among rivaling technologies.
As of yet, there are already several businesses involved in the reforestation business. For example BioCarbon Engineering, who uses specialized drones to replant trees in remote areas, or Komaza, Kenya’s largest tree planting company. These companies make more and more money every year, showing that the reforestation business can be a very beneficial one. (Khalamayzer, A. 2018) . This shows that the to-be-designed robot has promising applications in the reforestation sector since none of these rivaling business is focused on applications for National Parks.
The National Parks
- The technology needs to be usable by the National Park staff.
- The technology needs to require little to no necessary training.
- The technology should not be labor extensive.
- The technology needs to be fast enough to overwhelm influences by natural reforestation.
- The technology needs to be harmless to existing wildlife.
- The technology should be able to report anything out of the ordinary to the controlling personnel.
- The technology needs to do more environmental good than harm.
- The technology should also take into account park elements, like keeping water flows intact, while re-establishing biodiversity.
- The technology needs to have profitable future.
All previous research has clarified the problem extensively and has provided us with a lot of insights on how a robot could handle this problem. In order to start designing the robot, all previously gathered information should be combined, to get a clear idea of what the envisioned robot needs to become.
The extended literature came to the conclusion that manual labor is currently the best method to regrow a forest, as it excels in restoring the biodiversity, gives a lot of control as to where what is planted and is fairly effective with respect to both time and resources. Thus, to be a desirable product, the envisioned robot needs to at least perform on the same level as manual reforestation. To really make a difference, the robot should not be labor intensive nor too expensive. This will mainly be achieved by making the robot easy to control, so that a few National park rangers could be in charge of the reforestation as a whole. If this can be achieved, the robot would be a preferable alternative over manual reforestation, and hence a desirable artifact to have.
The case studies tell about the desire to make forest fireproof by adding rows of certain trees at certain places. Even though this is a solution that is specific to every different park, as every parks geography is different, this does require the robot to be very adaptable. Every park is different and will want to use the robot in a slightly different way, this should be within the robot's capacity. This should, however, not translate into a robot which is to difficult to control for park rangers.
Beyond this, the user analysis shows that society requires the robot to be made and used in an environmentally harmless way, this includes wasting as little as possible resources and not polluting the air in the National Park. Also, the enterprises investing in the development, and eventually, the production of the robot will want to make a profit from it, even though this is hard to incorporate into the current design, it should not be overlooked. Using all of these requirements, a clear picture of our robots functionalities is established and a design can be created.
- ↑ Cook, M., Sciencing, (2018, April 19). "Four consequences of Deforestation." Retrieved from: https://sciencing.com/four-consequences-deforestation-7622.html. Accessed at 23-05-2018.
- ↑ National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior (2017), National Reports. Retrieved from: https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/Reports/National. Accessed at 24-05-2018.
- ↑ Greenpeace (2018) "Solutions to deforestation". Retrieved from: https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/forests/solutions-to-deforestation/. Accessed at 24-05-2018.
- ↑ Khalamayzer, A., Greenbiz, (2018, January 25). These 14 businesses are growing money on trees. Retrieved from: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/these-14-businesses-are-growing-money-trees. Accessed at 23-05-2018.