We named the new category of planting and forest management machines “Forest BOTs” (Forest Robots), because it is a new set of autonomous machines that will be robotized in the near future, and that will operate without human interference in forest management.
We created the company Autonomous Agro Machines (AutoAgroMachines) with the aim of building autonomous machines such as Forest Bots for agriculture in general. Intelligent machines, which use A.I., which has been our area of expertise for over 30 years, which are autonomous, which become 100% robotic, that is, without human interference, and which perform their tasks with high performance, not the way “smart” machines currently operate, which are generally slower than human operation.
The “Forest BOTs” will perform the following forest management tasks:
Planting nursery seedlings;
Optical irrigation of the planted seedlings, seedling by seedling;
Seedling fertilization, seedling seedling,
Smart and selective chemical spray;
Forest or planted area inventory;
Sanity analysis of the tree-by-tree forest, among others.
The machines will have a Self-Driving system, that is, the machine moves by itself without human assistance, robotic operation of its task, GPS guidance, artificial intelligence and 3D image analysis of objects, recording of all actions in the database of the machine, with geoprocessing and data transfer to the cloud (once connected to an internet network), control of all actions by software, automatic self-test system, automatic verification of the quality of the task performed, among other industry 4.0 systems .
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The Real Carbon Capture Machine aims to plant seedlings of any forest species, native or exotic simultaneously, with spacing that can be adjusted by the operator, with the standard spacing being 2 meters per seedling, that is, it plants one seedling every 2 meters. It can be used on land with up to 18 degrees of inclination and it is not necessary to clear the area for planting, a compact version of the machine can be used on land with islands of vegetation, APP (permanent preservation area) or RL (legal reserve). While planting the seedlings, it records the GPS position of each seedling, the species, and tells what it has planted, at the end of planting; it sends the detailed planting data to the “cloud”. Each machine can be used in 24-hour shifts, and plants 1,800 seedlings per hour, in 24-hour shifts it would be the equivalent of planting 43,200 seedlings per day. Operates at speeds ranging from 2.5 km/h to 10 km/h depending on terrain quality and obstacles.
The history of the RCCM (Real Carbon Capture Machine) starts from the need to plant forests (multiple tree species) and not silvicultural systems (monoculture of tree species). It is very difficult to plant different species of trees manually, following the ideal mosaic for the perfect growth and development of the Forest. In a forest, each tree is born in a certain place, because that place has ideal climate, soil, fertility and luminosity conditions for its development. Trying to plant a forest without respecting the specific needs of each species, and mainly, without respecting the ideal place that a given seedling should occupy in relation to the other planted species, will result in failure. For this reason, we created the forest planting machine.
The Real Carbon Capture Machine solves the first and most important issue of a real forest, it allows us to choose the position where each seedling will be planted, creating a relationship between tree species. That is, the seedling of species X will be planted next to the seedling of species Y and Z. The position where the seedling will be planted depends on the position where the seedling is placed on the machine’s conveyor system. It is much easier to organize the seedlings on the conveyor belt of the machine, than under a Sun of 40°C remembering that the seedling X, must be placed after the seedling Y, and before the seedling Z. Normally the manual methods of forest planting, are very slow and subject to many failures. The mosaic of a forest must be designed with these precautions. Each tree must occupy a specific position during and after its development for the forest to grow healthy.
In 2016, after studying different solutions for planting forests, we started drawings to create a machine that would be able to plant faster than we already did, with more quality, reducing the loss of seedlings as much as possible, and preferably using computer systems to extract knowledge from planting. With this idea in mind, we started the first drawings and worked on different solutions for 3 years, until starting the first functional prototype.
For 3 years, we have designed and tested numerous options to arrive at the simplest, fastest, easiest to operate, robust and reliable Real Carbon Capture Machine – RCCM.
In 2019 we started the construction of the first operational prototype that reached 4 km/h, soon after, in the same year, we built the 2.0 version of the RCCM, and at the end of 2019 we started the construction of the RCCM version 3.0 and we are currently in the RCCM version 4.0 undergoing field testing to increase planting performance.
The RCCM is equipped with an automation system compatible with Industry 4.0, and uses a color recognition system to detect the species that are being planted, a GPS location system to record the exact position in which each seedling was planted, this will facilitate forest development monitoring work with Drones, among other systems to control all operations in real time of the machine in the field.
At the end of planting, the information loaded onto a memory card is transferred to our systems to start monitoring the development of the forest. Once we have the position of each seedling via GPS, and its species, we can monitor the growth of each one using Drones with LIDAR and other measurement and monitoring systems. The Drones will measure the growth of each individual, and check for diseases by leaf analysis using our Artificial Intelligence based disease detection systems.
All these technologies were created and developed by the iPlantForest Group. We idealized, designed, designed and built the RCCM. We develop all embedded systems at RCCM. We developed the information control and management systems obtained by the RCCM, and the entire forest management system of the iPlantForest Group. We developed the disease detection system, which uses artificial intelligence. We are developing the Drone that will monitor each tree in the forest, calculating the tree’s development, diseases, need for pruning, issuing a report to the field maintenance team.