After listening to a radio program describe the labor-intensive work of forest pathologists – principally, tree docs – Maksim Mikhailov had an thought: what if a robot helped gather their information?
Mikhailov is a 16-year-old pupil at ITMO University, the famend science and expertise establishment in St. Petersburg, Russia. As a member of the college’s Youth Robotics Lab, he was completely positioned to convey his thought to life. With a full crew engaged on the the challenge, the robot received the gold medal finally 12 months’s World Robot Olympiad; it can file tree areas inside a forest, establish their species, measure the widths of their trunks, and even establish if a tree is healthy or not.
Its identify is Forester, and most of its job is to discover forests and hit trees with its mallet. It’s a robotic adaptation of a method that human tree specialists usually use, referred to as “sounding,” to help their appraisal of a tree’s well being.
“The robot hits a tree and its microphone records the sound,” Mikhailov defined. “Since sick trees have cavities or low wood density in their trunk, they make a sound with a lower overall frequency than that of a healthy tree.” The robot makes use of an algorithm that analyzes the recorded sound to find out if it got here from a healthy tree.
Forester additionally takes a of the tree and feeds the picture to a neural community, figuring out 12 completely different species of trees with accuracy higher than 90 %.
This pupil invention is “a great idea,” says Lee Dean, lead arborist at Cornell University, concurrently cautioning that “trees are living, dynamic systems.” He identifies the robot as a software for the human arborist, not an automatic resolution that will render their work ineffective. “Tree risk assessment is qualifiable, not quantifiable. This can give indicators about a tree’s health, but can’t make the diagnosis.”
This jibes with Mikhailov’s personal notion of his crew’s creation. “While the robot can collect data about the trees, it cannot analyze that data to decide what needs to be done in order to preserve forests,” he mentioned. That activity falls to the human specialists, whose jobs are maybe made less complicated by a data-collecting robot.
An arborist’s work seems to be protected from automation – no less than, for now.