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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Exploring the feasibility of autonomous forestry operations: Results from the first experimental unmanned machine

La Hera, Pedro; Mendoza-Trejo, Omar; Lindroos, Ola; Lideskog, Hakan; Lindback, Torbjorn; Latif, Saira; Li, Songyu; Karlberg, Magnus

Abstract

This article presents a study on the world's first unmanned machine designed for autonomous forestry operations. In response to the challenges associated with traditional forestry operations, we developed a platform equipped with essential hardware components necessary for performing autonomous forwarding tasks. Through the use of computer vision, autonomous navigation, and manipulator control algorithms, the machine is able to pick up logs from the ground and manoeuvre through a range of forest terrains without the need for human intervention. Our initial results demonstrate the potential for safe and efficient autonomous extraction of logs in the cut-to-length harvesting process. We achieved a high level of accuracy in our computer vision system, and our autonomous navigation system proved to be highly efficient. This research represents a significant milestone in the field of autonomous outdoor robotics, with far-reaching implications for the future of forestry operations. By reducing the need for human labor, autonomous machines have the potential to increase productivity and reduce labor costs, while also minimizing the environmental impact of timber harvesting. The success of our study highlights the potential for further development and optimization of autonomous machines in the forestry industry.

Keywords

autonomous navigation; autonomous robot; field robotics; motion control; systems engineering

Published in

Journal of Field Robotics
2024, Volume: 41, number: 4, pages: 942-965 Publisher: WILEY