Estonia’s University of Tartu and robot manufacturer Milrem have developed 2 types of autonomous robots whose sole purpose is to plant trees or trim and clean vegetation.
Both robots are driverless, can be used simultaneously, one to plant trees and one to trim vegetation, and can travel at about 20 km per hour.
Seed Planting Robots
The first one, the Multiscope Forester Planter::
Takes approximately 5 to 6 hours per hectare to plant the trees, depending of course on the species as well as the terrain. According to Milrem Robotics’s website, the robot has a “capacity of 380 seedlings” and was “designed for a temperate climate zone”.
The second one, the Multiscope Forester Brushcutter:
Was designed to be rugged and long-lasting in challenging environments like clear-cut areas and is equipped with a hydraulic power unit with a maximum pressure of 250 bar.
“It’s a completely new territory we’re exploring,” said Mart Noorma, Milrem’s Science and Development Director and also a Professor of Space and Defence Technology at the University of Tartu. “The only way to figure this out is by working closely with scientists and possible future consumers.”
The robots are the size of a small car and weigh around one ton each. They use Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) which is a remote sensing method that uses a pulsed laser to measure distances. On top of the laser-based LiDAR, the robotic foresters also come equipped with cameras and global positioning systems (GPS) which help the system to navigate the terrain.
“This is one of many interesting applications … which show that mobile robotics technology is maturing fast and enabling robots to tackle new types of tasks in difficult environments,” Andrew Davidson at the U.K.’s Imperial College London told science and tech magazine New Scientist.