We named the new category of forest management machines “Forest BOTs” (Forest Robots), as it is a new set of autonomous robotic machines that operate without human interference in forest management.
The “Forest BOTs” will act in the following forest management tasks:
watering of the planted trees,
fertilization of planted trees,
analysis of forest health, tree by tree, among others.
The machines will have a Self-Driving system, that is, the machine moves by itself without human assistance, robotized operation of its task, GPS guidance, artificial intelligence and 3D image analysis of the objects, registration of all actions in the database of the machine, with geoprocessing and data transfer to the cloud (as soon as connected to an internet network), control of all actions by software, automatic self-test system, automatic quality check 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 of 2 meters per seedling, that is, plant one seedling every 2 meters. It can be used on land with up to 35 degrees of inclination and it is not necessary to clean the area to plant it, a compact version of the machine can be used on land with vegetation islands, APP (permanent preservation areas) or RL (legal reserve). At the same time that he plants the seedlings, he records the GPS position of each seedling, the species, and counts what he planted, at the end of the planting, sends detailed planting data to the “cloud”. Each machine can be used in 24-hour shifts, and plants 16,000 seedlings every 3 and a half hours, in 24-hour shifts it would be equivalent to planting 96,000 seedlings. It operates at 10 km / h, a speed higher than any human being could travel in an hour, planting a seedling every 2 meters. Plant 31 hectares every 3 and a half hours, that is, a single machine can plant 186 ha per day with only 3 operators.
The history of the RCCM (Real Carbon Capture Machine) begins with the need to plant forests (multiple tree species) and not silvicultural systems (mono culture of tree species). It is very difficult to plant varied 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 location, because that location has conditions of climate, soil, fertility and light ideal for the development of the plant. Trying to plant a forest without respecting the specific needs of each species, and mainly, without respecting the ideal location that should occupy a given seedling in relation to the other species planted, 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 true 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 belt system. It is much easier to organize the seedlings on the machine’s belt, than under a 40°C sun to remember that the seedling X, must be placed after the seedling Y, and before the seedling Z. Normally the manual methods of planting the forest are very slow and subject to many failures. The mosaic of a forest must be designed with this care. Each tree must occupy a specific position during and after its development for the forest to grow healthy.
In the year 2016 after studying several solutions for planting the forest, we started the drawings for the creation of a machine that was able to plant faster, than we already did, with more quality, reducing the loss of seedlings to the maximum, and preferably using computer systems to extract knowledge of 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 came to plant at 4 km/h, shortly thereafter, in the same year, we built version 2.0 of the RCCM, and at the end of 2019 we started the construction of the RCCM version 3.0 and currently RCCM version 4.0 is undergoing field tests to increase planting performance.
The machine consists of a set of two pieces of equipment, the first integrating the planting system and the computer system, and the second is a wagon for transporting seedlings. Each cart accommodates 16,000 seedlings and can be transported directly from the nursery to the planting area to reduce handling and the need for workers in each plantation. The trays are loaded directly from the nursery to the cart, towed down the road, and attached to the planting machine. As soon as all the seedlings are planted, the cart is decoupled and a new cart is attached to the planting machine to continue planting. In this way, we can plant 24 hours a day, without interruption, reaching up to 186 hectares planted/day, with up to 96,000 seedlings in a single day. The machine can plant linearly the equivalent of 465 km with only 3 operators: the tractor driver, the machine operator, and the assistant in the seedling transport cart.
The RCCM is equipped with an automation system compatible with Industry 4.0, and uses a color recognition system to detect species that are being planted, a GPS location system to record the exact position in which each seedling was planted, this will facilitate the work of monitoring the development of the forest 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 on 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. Drones will measure the growth of each individual, and check for diseases by foliar analysis using our Artificial Intelligence based disease detection systems.
All of these technologies were created and developed by the iPlantForest consortium. We idealized, designed, projected and built the RCCM. We develop all systems embedded in the RCCM. We developed the control and information management systems obtained by RCCM, and the entire forest management system of the iPlantForest consortium. 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 development of the tree, diseases, pruning needs, issuing a report to the field maintenance team.
ForestBot – The Robot That Plants Forest
The next generation of our forest planting machine, the RCCM 4.0 Autonomous. Download the presentation by clicking here.