Robotics & automation in the forestry sector

At the end of last year, an industry workshop was convened by Forest and Wood Products Australia Limited (FWPA) to discuss the current state of robotic systems in the forest sector and identify what activities, if any, should be undertaken in Australia (and possibly collaboratively with NZ).

Prior to the workshop, Professor Rien Visser from the School of Forestry, University of Canterbury, was commissioned to undertake an international scan of the current state of robotic systems in the forestry sector. The detailed report was presented at the workshop with the technologies outlined used as a prompt for local industry discussion.

As outlined in the report, while advanced robotic systems are already commonplace in controlled workspaces such as factories, the use of remote controlled or autonomous machines in more complex environments, such as for forest operations, is in its infancy. However, there is little doubt autonomous machinery will play an important role in forest operations in the future.

While technology integration and automation in forestry equipment are commonplace, this report focuses on equipment developments and opportunities where no operator is in the machine. It presents opportunities for remote control, tele-operated and automation of forest operations for the purpose of discussing the near, but also longer term, future of forest equipment. It also presents examples of existing developments as well as ideas from both forestry and other industries.

For your information, the minutes from discussions at the FWPA workshop can be accessed and downloaded from the FWPA website. The full 37-page report can also be downloaded here.

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