The future of sensor technology in the forest

Mehrere Personen und ein Roboterhund im WaldTU Ilmenau/Barbara Aichroth
The planting campaign was supported by (from left): Professor Alfred Pecher, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Fraunhofer IDMT; Professor Raoul Klingner, Director of Research Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft; Professor Gunther Notni, TU Ilmenau; Daniel Schultheiß, Mayor of Ilmenau; Professor Joachim Bös, Director of Fraunhofer IDMT; Bodo Ramelow, Minister President of Thuringia and Professor Erik Findeisen, FH Erfurt. Translated with DeepL.com (free version)

"Climate-neutral in the anniversary year": This was the motto under which the Fraunhofer IDMT, one of four Fraunhofer Institutes in Ilmenau, invited guests to the Thuringian Forest to celebrate its 20th anniversary - and some illustrious guests accepted the invitation. A very special well-wisher from TU Ilmenau also offered his congratulations: robot dog SPOT not only bowed to the guests of honor at the festive event at the Schöffenhaus, including the Thuringian Minister President Bodo Ramelow. The robot also assisted with the tree planting campaign, to which the institute had invited on the occasion of the joint commitment of the Fraunhofer IDMT, the TU Ilmenau and the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt as well as other regional partners. Together with employees and guests, they planted 1000 Douglas fir cuttings and thus a piece of "future forest".

Using SPOT as an example, Prof. Gunther Notni, deputy spokesperson of the WIR! alliance Holz-21-regio, Professor of Quality Assurance and Industrial Image Processing at TU Ilmenau and Senior Director of Sensors & Metrology at Fraunhofer IOF, explained the importance of robotics, sensors and automation technologies for successful and sustainable forest conversion. He provided insights into selected research projects of the alliance. The robot dog will literally play a key role in some of these projects: Equipped with a camera, it will in future not only assist with simple mechanical work in the forest - from transporting seedlings to drilling holes and actual planting.

In the coming months, the robot will be further developed and trained under the guidance of doctoral students Yan Zhang and Martin Richter together with students of mechanical engineering, engineering informatics, electrical engineering and information technology and media technology so that in future it will also be able to determine the vitality parameters of newly planted trees and monitor their growth based on multimodal and multispectral image processing technologies.

SPOT is one of several systems currently being tested by TU Ilmenau and the partners in the WIR! alliance Holz-21-regio for their suitability for use in forest conversion, including wheel and caterpillar systems.

We look forward to further cooperation with the Fraunhofer IDMT and all other alliance partners for sustainable and climate-resilient forest conversion!

More information on the Holz-21-regio alliance

Four-legged planting robot to facilitate reforestation: Article in the MDR Thüringen Journal