Value Sensitive Design and Environmental Impact Potential Assessment for Enhanced Sustainability in Unmanned Aerial Systems

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Value sensitive design (VSD) is an approach that facilitates the pro-active incorporation of human values into technological design. The VSD literature, as well as empirical studies, identify environmental sustainability as a human value with importance in design, and therefore importance in Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) design. UAS have begun to spark significant public interest and environmental changes. However, there are few studies that address how to design UAS for these changes, and none that take VSD as their point of departure. In this work, the environmental sustainability of UAS are analyzed using VSD and environmental impact potential assessment (EIPA) approaches. VSD envisioning cards are used as design prompts to identify relevant social and environmental impacts for two case studies to illustrate the approach: a healthcare application, and a powerline inspection application. The environmental impact potential is assessed, along with consideration of the drone's materials and manufacturing processes which have an effect on toxicity to humans, water depletion, and acidification. Then, general insights into how UAS can be designed for enhanced environmental sustainability are discussed. The results show high sensitivity to changes in defining the system boundaries and in defining relevant UAS scenarios, as a direct comparison of drone and non-drone scenarios is not possible. Thus, VSD and EIPA approaches can provide a nuanced way to analyze UAS applications, leading to positive social impacts and enhanced environmental sustainability in UAS in the future.

TitelProceedings of the 2020 IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society, ISTAS 2020
Publikationsdato13. nov. 2020
ISBN (Elektronisk)9781665415071
StatusUdgivet - 13. nov. 2020


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