If you go down to the woods today...

26 March 2024 | Read time: 2 minutes

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Last week SfTI's Ending with Impact team successfully demonstrated their self-navigating forest track mulching robot in a Whanganui forest.

Last week in a Whanganui forest, our Ending with Impact (EWIP) Digital Twin Robots team ran a successful demo of their technology. Those who attended including SfTI leadership and industry saw a self-navigating machine mulching its way along a forest track.

This EWIP project took a component from SfTI's Adaptive learning Robots Spearhead Research Project and developed it further in order to commercialise. Responding directly to industry feedback identifying a pain point with forestry track maintenance, the team developed technology to bolt onto an existing machine enabling it to autonomously conduct track maintenance in a resource-saving way.

"What we did today is we took a relatively dumb machine, a big mulcher, its a commercial machine and you can buy it out of Europe. And we developed a smart box that you can bolt on top of it. We got a bit of smarts in there that means it talks to the machine itself and we make it fully autonomous," said Project lead Professor Johan Potgieter. 

"Everything we do is just a bolt-on and external application control of the machine - which is a very difficult and unique value proposition for this machine but also for the commercial opportunity going forward not just in forestry but in agriculture," said Johan. 

Watch this short video about the project and meet the team involved: