The idea of a machine being able to autonomously harvest and move logs in the forest may seem like a far-fetched idea that is decades away. But, autonomous forestry machinery may be closer than we think. FPInnovations has been developing an autonomous log loader that is now capable of detecting and handling logs on the ground.
The project is part of FPInnovations’ Forestry 4.0 initiative, through which the organization is developing and testing new technology to help address three main challenges: the labour shortage facing the forest industry, inadequate connectivity in remote forestry operations, and the extremely variable operating environments operators work in.
The main goal behind developing an autonomous log loader is to address the first challenge: the labour shortage, Sylvain Volpé, forestry manager at FPInnovations, tells CFI.
“Recruiting new operators in the industry is difficult. The average age is quite high, so transferring the skillsets is difficult. So, we’re looking at how we can start to automate some functions in the supply chain to make the job easier, and then eventually, as we evolve with the technology, make it fully automated,” he explains.