First unmanned forestry machine tested

16 February 2024

A study published in the Journal of Field Robotics assessed the world’s first unmanned machine designed for autonomous forestry operations. Investigators demonstrated that using computer vision, autonomous navigation, and manipulator control algorithms, their newly developed machine can safely, accurately, and efficiently pick up logs from the ground and manoeuvre through various forest terrain without the need for human intervention.

The research represents a significant milestone in the field of autonomous outdoor robotics, which could reduce the need for human labour, thereby increasing productivity and reducing labour costs, while also minimizing the environmental impact of timber harvesting.

The autonomous terrain vehicle was designed and built at Luleå University of Technology in Sweden. It is the first time in world history that forwarding is done completely without human intervention. The researchers behind the successful trial see it as an important step towards more sustainable forestry.

“This will redraw the map for the industry and how other players in the area view operations such as these. We have worked extremely intensively with this test, and it feels very nice that it actually works,” Magnus Karlberg, professor at Luleå University of Technology said.

“Besides its short-term effect on forestry, the technological advancements that come with autonomous forestry machines have the potential to address current environmental issues. As demonstrated in this study, by embracing cutting-edge technologies like autonomous navigation and manipulation algorithms, the unmanned machine provides not only timber harvesting with greater efficiency but also promotes sustainable forestry,” said corresponding author Pedro La Hera, PhD, of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

“Automated operations can be highly accurate and effective in terms of collateral damage to adjacent ecosystems, which helps us to be more ecologically friendly than we currently are.”

The full report can be viewed here

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Source: techxplore