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Bosch unveils technology plans aimed at improving climate, health

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The Robert Bosch automotive parts plant in Dorchester County is one of the region's largest employers. Parent company Bosch said it and the rest of the company's global operations have reduced their carbon footprint to zero. File/Provided

Having reduced carbon emissions to net-zero at all of its sites, including its Dorchester County auto parts plant, global engineering and manufacturing giant Bosch is looking to help its suppliers do the same while beefing up technology that could further help the climate.

"When it comes to climate change, we at Bosch take the fight against it very seriously," Tanja Ruckert, the German company's chief digital officer, said during an event at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Bosch is the parent company of the Robert Bosch LLC plant on Dorchester Road that makes fuel injectors and powertrain systems.

"We were the first global industrial enterprise to achieve carbon neutrality at all our international locations," she said. "We’re working now on reducing emissions generated along our supply chains and during the life cycle of our products by 15 percent by 2030. In terms of volume, this is 67 million metric tons — a figure roughly 20 times greater than what our locations emitted in our baseline year of 2018."

The event was an opportunity for Bosch to show off some of its newest initiatives, including using artificial intelligence to detect asthma in children. The technology works by using sophisticated microphones and sound analysis to see if conditions like asthma can be detected by studying the noise emitted during breathing.

Bosch also is introducing artificial intelligence sensors that can detect wildfires long before camera- or satellite-based systems, helping to reduce damage and carbon emissions.

"These sensors are going to help save lives, homes, and tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere — all thanks to AI and (internet) connectivity," said Mike Mansuetti, president of Bosch in North America.

In addition, the company is designing software for self-driving cars that can duplicate the tasks humans must do while behind the wheel, such as perceiving surroundings, making snap decisions, accelerating, braking and steering.

A Bosch poll of consumers in five countries shows 75 percent of respondents see technology as the key to fighting climate change, with nearly three out of four U.S. consumers saying technology is improving safety and health and making life more comfortable. The survey asked residents in the U.S., China, Germany, India and the United Kingdom for their opinions on a range of tech-related topics. The results were part of the company's presentation at the Las Vegas electronics show.

"Technology can enable people to do incredible amounts of good in the world, and this survey shows individuals recognize how advancements in tech can fundamentally change — and improve — our lives," Davie Sweis, chief digital officer for Bosch's global business services, said in a statement. "However, the survey also illustrates some skepticism about the power of technology, and we need find ways to strike a balance in using technology to improve the lives of people around the world in a healthy, responsible manner."

Along those lines, Ruckert said Bosch will continue to play a leading role in the Digital Trust Forum — a global consortium of business groups aiming to create a high level of trust in artificial intelligence and internet-connected products.

"The plan is that products that meet certain criteria will bear a Digital Trust seal" similar to the energy-efficiency labels on home appliances, Ruckert said.

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