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Autonomous forestry machine testing in Sweden

A self-driving forest machine that was designed and built at Luleå University of Technology in Sweden is ready to be tested in the field. It is a unique machine as there is nothing similar in the world according to Professor Magnus Karlberg. On the machine everything that humans do has been replaced with artificial intelligence. Source: Timberbiz

Prof Karlberg said that the machine is now in the testing stages after many years of development, the machine was first sketched out in 2014.

Since then, Prof Karlberg and other researchers and students at the university have worked to make the self-propelled vehicle as smart and robust as possible. Now it’s ready for the forest.

The purpose is to conduct tests in a number of areas to develop autonomous technology for machines and other equipment used in agriculture and forestry.

“What makes our machine unique in its kind is precisely the flexibility to test different equipment, to replace drivelines and units and more,” Prof Karlberg said.

The 10-ton machine can be controlled with a remote control but is also programmed to perform work entirely on its own.

The machine is currently powered by biodiesel and built without a cab, but with a conventional driveline, crane, pendulum arms and sensors.

“We have equipped the machine withsensors so that it can make good decisions and to increase safety,” Prof Karlberg said. “For example, if a person gets too close, he should turn himself off.”

The off-road vehicle platform opens up for a number of research collaborations with, among others, forestry ompanies and universities in Sweden and abroad.

The researchers are investigating, for example, how soil preparation and transport of biomass can take place in a more sustainable way.

In the forest, soil damage is a major concern and we want to significantly reduce the proportion of area on the felling that is affected.

“In one of our projects, we are working together with Swedish forest companies to do soil preparation in a completely different way than today,” Prof Karlberg said. “We also study productivity.

“With the machine we can do tests and see that it works in reality and not just in a computer environment.

“Driverless vehicles will change both agriculture and forestry. But it is still a number of years away before this type of vehicle becomes common on our clearings.

“Man will be present even when these vehicles go autonomously in the forest, but will do other things.”

Instead of sitting in the cab, you may be a short distance away and control several vehicles via controls.