As well as being an eyesore, and the bane of the righteous rambler’s Sunday stroll, access tracks left in woodland by heavy logging equipment can damage both tree roots and the environment.
Partly as a solution to this problem, but mainly as a technology demonstrator, Plustech, the Finnish R&D arm of forestry equipment maker, Timberjack, has developed a ‘walking forest machine.’
Powered by a Diesel engine and hydraulic pumps, the machine uses advanced computer control to adapt automatically to the forest floor.
Six articulated legs enable the arboreal automaton to move forwards, backwards, sideways and diagonally. It can also turn in place and step over obstacles.
Responding to sensor input, the machine distributes its weight evenly over the ground and finds a base of support for each of the six legs.
Driving the metal monster is said to be easy. While the operator uses a joystick to control direction and speed, a control centre based on PC technology and a distributed CAN bus system does the rest of the work.
Plustech MD Erkki Kare told DE that the creation of the machine, of which only two are in existence, has been made possible largely due to development of cost effective automation and mobile hydraulics.
‘No decision has been made on commercialisation’ said Kare, adding that biggest hurdle to mass-manufacture is bringing down the cost.