Sweden’s AirForestry demonstrates drone’s ability to lift a full tree
November 24, 2023 By AirForestry
In a thrilling advancement for the forestry sector, AirForestry, renowned for its pioneering work with drone technology for harvesting trees, has recently showcased that its drone can attach to a tree top and lift a tree trunk. This feat underscores the tremendous strides the company has made in revolutionizing forestry operations, offering a glimpse into the future of sustainable and efficient timber harvesting.
“We’re quite literally elevating the future of forestry,” said Mauritz Andersson, CTO and co-founder of AirForestry. “Harvesting trees from above using drones was once thought impossible. Today, we’re turning that vision into reality, demonstrating not just the technological feasibility but also the environmental advantages of our approach.”
The innovative system, encompassing a six-metre heavy-duty drone, a unique harvesting tool, A.I.-based automation, and a control station, represents a significant leap from traditional logging practices. As demonstrated in the attached video, the drone first navigates to a thinning site, precisely identifies a tree using computer vision, and subsequently employs the harvesting tool to grip the tree’s top. Utilizing gravity, the tool descends the tree, defoliating branches and leaving them as natural forest nourishment. The culmination of the process sees the harvesting tool cutting the tree trunk with an electric chainsaw, then the drone flies the tree trunk to a designated collection point by the roadside.
“Our solution is not only about big drones. It’s about sustainability, efficiency, and ensuring minimal impact on our precious forests,” Andersson continued. “Being fully electric, our drones leverage high-performance batteries and on-the-go charging stations. The tool’s lightweight design, paired with the drone’s impressive 200-kilogram payload capacity, ensures an efficient and eco-friendly harvest cycle.”
The company’s journey, from founding and the first prototype in the summer of 2020, to the full size drone’s inaugural flight last summer, through the rigours of a Swedish winter at temperatures plummeting to -20 C, has been filled with noteworthy milestones. Each of these steps has been critical to the company’s current triumph: a drone that can lift trees and transport it to the nearest road without inflicting damage on the forest floor.
In the words of Andersson, “This is what the future of forestry looks like. We’re reinventing forestry for good, and this is just the beginning.”
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