Robotics spearhead demonstration day visual transcript
The first title screen, with a grey and black background, reads: Learning Robots to Complement The Human Workforce, Science for Technological Innovation - Kia kotahi mai - Te Ao Pūtaiao me Te Ao Hanarau - National Science Challenge, July 2022- New Zealand.
The second title screen reads: Robotic Spearhead Project Partners. Below are nine logos for the following: University of Canterbury, Lincoln Agritech, University of Auckland, Scion, Massey University- MAF Digital Lab, Victoria University of Wellington, National Science Challenges- Science for Technological Innovation, University of Otago, and Lake Taupo Forest Trust.
The third slide is titled: Key Researchers. Below is a list as follows: Armin Werner- Lincoln Agritech Ltd, Jaco Fourie - Lincoln Agritech Ltd, Johan Potgieter- Massey University, Will Browne- Victoria University of Wellington, Henry Williams- University of Auckland, Richard Green- University of Canterbury, Brendan McCane- University of Otago, Steven Mills- University of Otago, Fiona Stevens-McFadden- Victoria University of Wellington, Fanglue Zhang- Victoria University of Wellington, Richard Parker- Scion.
The title screen fades, and a bird’s eye view shot appears of hills with dense trees with the ocean, distant hills, and a clear blue sky in the background. The camera moves forward over the trees before it switches to a different shot of dense forest over rolling hills with a dirt path on the right of the screen. In the background, we see many other farther hills. Next is a similar shot moving over the forest as far as the camera can see.
In a new shot, there is a cleared forest section with rows of cut logs on the brown forest floor. A yellow Hyundai logging crane is picking up logs and placing them into one of the rows.
Switch to a close-up of a metal box. Blue labels are attached to the front side of the box. The one on the left reads: Massey University, University of New Zealand, next to the university logo. The label on the right reads MAF Digital Lab. As the shot changes, we can now see the metal box is the body of a machine or robot. The rectangular metal body has large all-terrain wheels attached, driving slowly through a muddy area and then making an on-the-spot turn. The machine has a black panel between the blue labels. The black panel has what looks like a small lens. There is a short, thick antenna on the side and two partially flatted spheres mounted on the top, one on the front of the metal box and one on the back. A wire connects these devices, and then runs from the front disk into a port through the front of the box. Another wire comes out of the port and attaches to the antenna.
The next shot is a section of forest with young trees spaced uniformly. Behind it, we can see a more mature forest. There is a small pile of logs in the middle of the new section. Then, another bird’s eye view of dense forest on hills for many kilometers with mountains in the distance. Then the camera flies over the tops of the trees pointed straight down.
Cut to a lower shot of a cleared section of forest with five logging cranes moving cut logs into nearby piles of various sizes. Next is a close-up of the wheels from the earlier robot. It is moving in a cleared section of forest, still rough with broken bits of wood and mud. In another shot, a person in a high-vis jacket stands near the machine, watching it with hands on hips. The machine appears to be around a metre long, and half a metre wide and deep. The robot is at an angle with its back wheels in a crevice in the ground. It manages to drive out.
Audio, male speaker
New Zealand has lots of forests. In fact, 38 percent of the landmass is covered in forest. Approximately 80 percent of that is natural forest, whereas just under 20 percent is managed plantation. These plantations not only provide habitats for creatures, greenhouse gas capture and billions of dollars to the economy, but managed forests also prevent natural forests being chopped down for the multiple uses of wood.
Regrettably, managed forests have inherent risks for humans with over 150 injuries a year resulting in more than a week off work and the rate of fatality is sadly much higher than agriculture or manufacturing. Robots are usually kept within cages in factories to save humans from such dull monotonous and dangerous jobs, but robots are starting to break loose. Robots are starting to enter day-to-day life next to humans. This raises many interesting questions, such as: how do robots work safely with humans, how do they navigate in unstructured domains, and how can they sense the world around them? Academics and industry are interested in such questions, whether robots are to be employed indoors and in factories working collaboratively with humans or autonomously in outdoor settings. It happens that such outdoor forestry settings are exceptionally challenging, so a great environment to develop the technology for advanced robotics. So if you go down to the woods today, you might just see a robot but the robot will also see you, plan a safe path around you, and get on with the valuable tasks such as monitoring the continued health of the forest.
A man talks to the camera in an office with a large panoramic portrait of a mountainous New Zealand landscape behind him. He is wearing a striped button-down shirt and glasses. In the next shot, a white drone is at the forefront while a young man sits working behind it. Then, a man with a back polo with the MAF Digital lab logo is holding what looks like a walkie-talkie with a thick, long antennae near his mouth. He is looking at a laptop on the table in front of him, cluttered with tools, drinks, and other items. He talks into the device in his hand.
We switch to two men who look at a computer monitor. The older one sits wearing a winter coat, scarf, and beanie. He points at the monitor as the younger man who stands next to him leans over, looking at the screen. Then another man works next to a piece of equipment sitting on a table. We can now see these shots are inside a large white tent. Several people are working in the background. Another man looks down at a laptop, and then a woman in a winter coat looks at a man working in front of a whiteboard full of data.
One of the bearded men is now outside with the robot on wheels in a cleared, sandy area with broken, burned bits of wood. Then we see another shot of the machine in the crevice. Three men watch as the robot moves about the sand on rough terrain.
Audio, Bruce MacDonald
Bruce MacDonald - Theme leader SfTI: SFTI’s role is to increase New Zealand’s capacity to use physical sciences and engineering for economic growth. The balance between new science and impact for industries is a really tricky thing, so you need both and it’s been pretty effective here because the researchers have continued to talk and engage with the industry as they went along; and the demo we had today was an example of that so engaging with industry which directs the fundamental research that happens.
Another man with the MAF digital lab, Massey University black polo, talks to the camera. He has thick black glasses and short-cropped hair. The grey overlap at the bottom right of the screen reads: Johan Potgieter, Massey University. Behind him is the outdoor field section with the robot, which is not moving.
A new shot of the robot as it drives on a sandy incline. Six people in the background watch it, and two record it with their phones. We then see Johan in a high-vis coat working on the robot, with the white tent in the background. He is looking at a panel on the metal box’s flat top about the size and shape of a smartphone. Then, inside the tent, we see three people at a computer monitor talking.
Audio, Johan Potgieter
The unique value proposition of the spearhead was of course bringing all these researchers together, finding a way for us to work bringing all our complementary skills together and it was actually easier than we thought getting a variety of researchers around the country together working on a unique problem and trying to solve something that ultimately is extremely difficult to do, but the challenge made it possible for us and thanks for the support of the national science challenge.
A man in a black jumper is in the tent, talking to people off-camera. Behind him are the whiteboard, a monitor, a laptop, and a miniature version of the robot on a table. Another man stands next to a piece of equipment. He explains something to a woman in a face mask on the other side of the table. We then see a close-up of the working parts of the equipment. Two protruding mechanical parts move like fingers. They are black and white and the components have a square shape and are connected by mechanical joints. They push a plastic cube with a symbol on top between them, then close to grasp the cube.
In the next shot, we can see the tent crowded. Four people in the foreground stand in a discussion. Behind them are rows of chairs and small groups of people talking. Next, a man stands behind a laptop. He is pointing to a slide on the screen. He wears a Lincoln Agritech jacket. Another man points to a monitor with a thermal map to two others that look at the screen. We then get several more close-up shots of the robot in the field.
Audio, Armin Werner
We present the robotic spearhead five-year project initiated and funded by New Zealand’s national science challenge on science for technological innovation. We created the knowledge, we developed new tools for robots in challenging outdoor conditions like a forest. This journey was an interdisciplinary effort of scientists and engineers in computer technology, computer vision, robotics, artificial intelligence, machine safety and specialists in robot applications. We work with robot manufacturers and end users like the like Lake Taupō Forest Trust, our host here today.
Another man talks to the camera in the office with the landscape portraits behind him. He has a short beard, a shaved head, and is wearing a faded blue button-down shirt with small palm trees on it. The overlay reads: Patrick Nepia, Lake Taupō Forest Management. We then have several shots within the tent where small groups of people are talking to each other.
Audio, Patrick Nepia
I was involved right at the very start of the robotics project especially for today and I have totally seen the progression right from when they first came to the forest to test their robot right to today and I can tell you it’s been an immense change and also the progress has been huge, so yeah very exciting.
Shots of the conference within the field tent continue. Eventually, we see a close-up of the miniature version of the robot. It is red and barge-like in shape, with a small camera mounted on top. Its wheels are dirty. It sits on a table, and three people behind it seem to be referencing it as they talk. Then back outside, three men stand side by side. The one in the middle holds what appears to be a remote in one hand and the radio with the long antennae in the other. The two men listen as he talks, and then he points out in front of them.
Next, we see a close-up of the rugged wheels covered in dirt. As the camera pans up, we see the three men behind it. Then, two of the men work on the robot, still outside. One holds one of the flat spheres that sit on top of the metal box of the robot. The other is adjusting something on a wheel. The first man puts the disk back onto the robot.
Next is a shot of the black and white robot in the tent, with two finger-like projections. They bend side to side, shifting the cube in between them. The camera pans up to a woman who watches and switches to the man talking to her across the table. We then see three men looking at a computer monitor, pointing and discussing something on the screen. Next, we see a close-up of a phone camera held by someone taking a photo of three men posing in front of him. Behind them is the table with the miniature robot prototype.
Audio, Armin Werner
In the project we developed a new understanding and tools for outdoor robotics. Robots can better perceive the environment learn from previous actions and run in challenging terrain while operating safely with people. Today we show our success in bringing together some of our key results in a real robotic machine. We call it our demonstrator. This robotic platform can move in the harsh terrain of a forest. Path planning is done semi-automatically by combining digital terrain information with the robot’s capabilities.
A woman is now speaking in the office in front of the landscape portrait. Her hair is tied back tightly, and she wears a green hoodie. The graphic overlay reads: Lania Holt, Lake Taupō Forest Management. Next, we see Lania talk to a man in a high-vis vest inside the tent. She appears to be explaining something to him. Next, we see the small drone in the foreground, with two men behind talking. The one points to the drone as he talks. The camera changes and we see a third man in the conversation, who makes a triangle with his hands as he speaks. We then have several more shots inside the tent where one person explains something to another.
Audio, Lania Holt
In this case, it’s not just about business of the trees, it’s about ensuring the whenua is sustainable at a level that’s very meaningful to Māori because you know for other forestry companies it’s often just about the business. They don’t own the whenua and they just need to optimise their profits. But this research needs to be across both, they are both important and also important is a new element we’re bringing in around cultural connections to the whenua and to the forestry business.
A man in a navy jumper and glasses speaks to the camera in the office. The overlay reads: Geoff Thorp, Lake Taupō Forest Management. Then, outside, we see half a dozen men in the sandy field. The man in front in a high-vis coat is pointing beyond the camera while the rest watch. One is filming on his camera. In another view, we see the group is larger. Then, the bearded man talks into the walkie-talkie as the robot moves through a flat muddy section near where several cars are parked. People follow the robot as it slowly moves, as others watch or film. A close-up as the robot turns in the mud and then reverses. Next, it drives over slightly rougher terrain as we still see many people in the background.
Audio, Geoff Thorp
Well we’re in a game, forestry, that’s still very manual in a lot of its aspects and we feel that we need to get more technological across the board really. It was impressive to see a wide range of researchers there are and from different institutions that they they’ve put in. Today it was the first time we’ve seen them all working together like that and to get some understanding of the complexities of the different aspects that they are having to pull together to make a robotic machine. Ultimately is what their immediate task is and they really start to crack at it, so it was impressive.
A man in a black jacket, with Lincoln Agritech printed on the chest, speaks to the camera in the office. The overlay reads: Jaco Fourie, Manager Machine Vision - Lincoln Agritech. Next, the robot drives through the sandy section as two people stand behind it.
Audio, Jaco Fourie
So the follow-up project is called ending with impact and that is in fact the main purpose. We want to end what we’ve developed, the technologies that we’ve developed in the original project, we now want to produce an impactful outcome that is something that our end users and industry can actually really use. So it’s a project where industry is leading the conversation instead of the researchers.
The robot drives over a broken branch and across cracks in the ground. One wheel lifts off the ground as it climbs over a mound in the sand. We see it turn on the spot on top of loose debris and branches.
Audio, Lania Holt
It’s highly relevant to how we see people working in the forest, connecting to the nature of our forestry business. We want to be one of the leading edge in terms of the way we work.
Next, the robot goes through a small muddy puddle. Then, it climbs an incline with loose soil and broken branches. Lastly, an extreme close-up as the wheel goes through a puddle.
Audio, Patrick Nepia
Work in the forest and our people’s most significant problem . . . health and safety comes to probably the forefront and the other one is also having the available workforce to do the jobs.
A man in a grey newsboy cap and a beige flannel jacket talks to the camera in the office. The overlay reads: Ngahere Wall, Trustee of Lake Taupō Forest Trust. This is followed by shots of the robot driving along a long sandy stretch of the cleared section as several people follow on foot.
Audio, Ngahere Wall
So I think that a lot of the fear that may be out there around just the unknowing on what the involvement of robots are going to be; I think that if we can ensure that we’re integrating robots into our current performance and productivity that it complements our current workforce and mainly to build the trust up that robots are there to enhance our operations and our whānau more than a replacement of our whānau.
The long shot of the robot driving a straight path continues.
Audio, Jaco Fourie
Robots working in close proximity to humans safely; and that is one of the main focus' of our research in this project.
Another shot of the robot in the sandy mud, driving up an incline. In the next, the camera looks up at a group of about a dozen people standing on top of a mound of forest debris. Some are talking, and all are facing toward the camera. Next, a shot of the robot driving down a slope into a messy area of broken wood. Then a close-up of the robot in the parking area with three people standing behind it. One is pointing at it. Next is a shot of four people surrounding the robot in the field, one near each corner. Then a close-up behind the robot as it drives through the mud.
Audio, Lania Holt
Under the research strategy, knowledge is one of our main aims. Not only that but we have some priority research themes - one of them is around technology and innovation and robotics and what is the future of the forestry business going to look like?
End screen with the grey and black background. The title reads: Thanks to our industry advisory group members. The list below reads:
Antony Royal (Maori Digital Development fund) - Maori businesses
Anton Waller (Architectural Profiles ltd.) - Industrial manufacturing
Ian Yule (PlantTech)- Primary industries (researcher)
Lisa Wong, Toby Collet, Sian Phillips (Crown Equipment) Off-truck autonomous robotics
Mike Shatford (Design Energy) - Robotics technologies
Nigel Sharplin (InFact)- Innovation design
Steve Saunders (Robotics Plus) - Manufacturing of field robots
Steve Wilson (Talbot Technologies) - Industrial mass manufacturing
Will Kerner (Bragato Research Institute) - Primary industries (end users)
The following slide is titled: Robotic Spearhead Project Partners. Below are nine logos for the following: University of Canterbury, Lincoln Agritech, University of Auckland, Scion, Massey University- MAF Digital Lab, Victoria University of Wellington, National Science Challenges- Science for Technological Innovation, University of Otago, and Lake Taupo Forest Trust.
The last slide reads: for further information on the SFTI robotics spearhead project, please contact:
Below in a blue box on the left of the screen reads: Lincoln Aritech Ltd. 1 Engineering Drive, Lincoln 7640 New Zealand, +64 325 3700. www.lincolnagritech.co.nz, firstname.lastname@example.org. On the right of the screen is the Lincoln Agritech logo.