and responsibility

The use of robots touches on numerous sensitive issues such as data security, the use of scarce resources, compliance with climate policy objectives and, above all, the coexistence of man and machine. URG is committed to maintaining high standards in all legal rules such as the Supply Chain Act or the EU Corporate Responsibility Directive Act. This is despite the fact that URG has not yet reached the relevant thresholds that would oblige it to do so.

Environment and supply chains

Many different materials and inputs are needed to produce robots. Two groups are particularly important: plastics for the housing and metal, precious metals and rare earths for the electronics. In research and development, URG focuses on a simple design of its machines, i.e. on a design that saves as much raw material as possible. At the same time, the end of the life cycle is already taken into account during the design phase: parts of the machines should be reusable or easy to recycle. In purchasing, recycled materials are preferred. It is important to comply with high social and environmental standards in the global supply chains, as defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The aim is to strengthen human rights and prevent human rights violations.

Employee concerns

Employees are taken into account far beyond the legally prescribed framework. The more employees are involved in shaping development and production, the more innovative they can be. Flat hierarchies helpus to achieve this. At the same time, knowledge in this field of activity is quickly outdated, which is why further education and training play an important role. The equal cooperation of people of different nationalities and ethnicities is a reality at URG. The professions of mechanical engineering, information technology and computer science are among those with the lowest proportion of women. This is not only an aberration for social reasons, it also limits the talent pool that is available. That’s why we try to get young women in particular interested in these professions and motivate them to work at URG. The company offers them fair opportunities for promotion and does everything to make it easier for them to return to work after maternity leave and possibly child-rearing leave. Young people without a higher education degree who are interested in computer science, coding or technical professions often have underestimated skills with pragmatic life experience that they can bring to companies like URG, which can help them gain new career prospects.

Data protection and data security

Robots, just like our everyday objects, are equipped with cameras and sensors to understand people’s speech and images of their surroundings. They therefore collect and generate volumes of data when in use. URG strictly adheres to the requirements that follow from the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the German implementation law. But technology often develops faster than regulation. Artificial intelligence, for example, makes decisions that affect the interests of robot users and are only partially addressed in the relevant legal texts. That is why URG attaches importance to respecting the rights of all those affected to their data and to their self-determination as a matter of course, even where legal regulations do not yet exist. Together with the users of the robots and those who deal with these products as their customers, we strive to penetrate new questions and solve them in the spirit ofthe philosophy of our data protection regulations.

Robots and the world of work
Robots and the world of work

More new jobs

… are created by robots in the service sector than are lost in industry. Machines can be used to relieve workers of dangerous, monotonous or physically demanding work. Especially in ageing societies like Europe’s, something else comes into play: Workers who are becoming scarcer should concentrate on the activities that suit them best and match their skills. Robots can have artificial intelligence, they can learn. But they often lack empathy and imagination. They cannot improvise or understand surprising situations. Even humanoid, i.e. human-like, robots are therefore neither colleagues nor equal partners for us. They are useful co-workers who must always respect the dignity of workers and the interests of customers. In 2020, only six percent of all German companies with more than 20 employees have used robots. In the immediate future, the use of machines will increase strongly, especially in the health and care sector. This is where the demand is particularly high and where they can play to their strengths. We at URG are proud to contribute to this. In the recent past, our robots have proven in practice what they can already do in supporting people in need of care, for example. We have also decided to feed back the impending degenerative societal workload through voluntary contributions from robotized value creation into our own development processes designed for sustainability. With the increasing development and spread of the useful helpers themselves, more and more questions also need to be answered. These range from working conditions to how people in need of care react to being approached and assisted by a machine. URG is very interested in finding the answers in an open dialogue with all stakeholders -employee representatives, consumers, companies in the various service sectors, scientists and politicians. Thanks to our parent company, the RAG Foundation, participation and reconciliation of interests are among our defining characteristics. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions or suggestions.

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