3.10.00 - Forest robotics and digital forest operations
Forest sectors around the globe face critical challenges. The forestry workforce is diminishing and aging. Forest worker safety has been a continual issue for forest operations given the remote settings and natural conditions of forestry work sites. Logging, for example, remains one of the most dangerous and difficult jobs with high fatality and injury rates. A traditional one-size-fits-all approach in forest practices causes operational inefficiency, resource waste, and large environmental footprints of management activities.
Robotics, digital and precision forestry are emerging technologies that are currently in development for forest operations. These new technological advancements may offer opportunities to address ongoing challenges as they can help enhance work efficiency, protect the environment, improve worker health and safety, and attract young, skilled workers.
The objective of this new unit is to research, develop and promote innovative automation and digital solutions to today’s forest sector problems. This unit will make efforts to bring new innovation and technologies to forest operations community and modernize forest management practices while helping overcome the ongoing challenges of workforce limitations, operational inefficiency and large environmental footprints.
This unit will seek to collaborate with various engineering disciplines, such as mechanical, electrical, industrial and computer engineering, to develop new forestry machines and cognitive and control systems, digitalize communication platforms and decision-making processes for precise and intelligent forest operations.
This new unit will support the activities of 3.01.00 Harvesting and Transportation Engineering and 3.04.00 Forest Operations Management as its role is to develop new technologies to transform conventional forest practices. The unit will also closely collaborate with 4.02.04 Geographic and Management Information Systems, 4.02.05 Remote Sensing, 4.03.00 Informatics, modelling and statistics.
Research areas in which new Unit will be active:
- Autonomous, semi-autonomous, and tele-operated forestry equipment design and testing
- Applications of machine vision, cognitive science, artificial intelligence and data science to precision data collection, forest operations decision-making, human-machine interfaces, and control and monitoring systems
- Digitalization of communication platforms for data collection, decision-making and implementation
- Precision forest operations at the sub-forest stand and individual tree levels
Although the digital revolution has fundamentally changed the way we live and work, the forest sector has been slow in adopting new technologies. This unit will help research and promote forestry-specific automation and digital technologies to increase operational efficiency, reduce resource waste, mitigate environmental impacts and improve forest worker’s health and safety.