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posted by LaminatorX on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the I-for-one-welcome-our-new-Chainsaw-Bot-overlords dept.

Sir Garlon writes:

"Researchers in Japan have developed a chainsaw-wielding robot that climbs trees and prunes off limbs. Such pruning is currently done by humans, who can't always use a cherry picker and sometimes have to climb the tree and operate the chainsaw one-handed. That is, not surprisingly, rather dangerous. The robot is still experimental, and it's remotely operated, not fully autonomous. But it's an impressive gadget none the less. Robots with chainsaws, what could possibly go wrong? Linked article includes video."

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by bart9h on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:10PM

    by bart9h (767) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:10PM (#7282)

    How would it work on a non-straight trunk (which is the vast majority, at least in tropical areas like here)?

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by nukkel on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:52PM

      by nukkel (168) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:52PM (#7313)

      It won't.

      It's also a flawed idea, since pruning a tree often involves removing only a few selected branches, rather than stripping the entire trunk. The robot doesn't look like it's able to climb over branches without actually cutting them off.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by mcgrew on Wednesday February 26 2014, @03:20PM

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Wednesday February 26 2014, @03:20PM (#7327) Homepage Journal

        This looks like it's not very useful anyway. The largest tree it can climb has a trunk no more than 25 cm (10 inches) diameter, that's not a very big tree. It can only cut 5 cm (2 inch) limbs? Almost useless. About its only use is trimming limbs that hang over power lines as afar as I can see, and how damgerous is a two inch limb?

        Dead limb in the middle of that 75 year old walnut tree? You're going to need a real tree guy to take that out. This thing can't climb a tree that fat, can't cut branches in the middle of the tree, and can't cut that five inch diameter limb.

        I mean come on, a two inch limb? I could almost take one out with a paring knife.

        Also, I found the article itself silly. "Of all the things you should not give robots—lasers, knives, swords—one of the worst is possibly chainsaws. I mean, chainsaws are noisy in a terrifying sort of way and awfully messy."

        Apparently the writer never heard of robotic surgery [wikipedia.org] or LASIK. [wikipedia.org] In fact, LASIK is impossible without laser-wielding robots.

        Noisy in a terrifying sort of way? WTF?

        --
        mcgrewbooks.com mcgrew.info nooze.org
        • (Score: 5, Informative) by buswolley on Wednesday February 26 2014, @03:29PM

          by buswolley (848) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @03:29PM (#7332)

          Prototypes are generally limited. Bigger diameters could probably be accounted for without fundamental changes in design, I would guess.

          --
          subicular junctures
        • (Score: 5, Informative) by frojack on Wednesday February 26 2014, @08:00PM

          by frojack (1554) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @08:00PM (#7514) Journal

          Dude: Its a forestry tool. Its not for urban trees.

          Think tree farms: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/63 /Pinus_taeda_plantation.jpg [wikimedia.org]

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 1) by Rivenaleem on Thursday February 27 2014, @10:57AM

            by Rivenaleem (3400) on Thursday February 27 2014, @10:57AM (#7885)

            Also, a farmed forest WILL have telegraph straight trees in it, all the stunted ones being pruned away and any branches that impact the direction of growth also removed.

        • (Score: 1) by kogspg on Wednesday February 26 2014, @08:02PM

          by kogspg (850) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @08:02PM (#7517)

          Seeing how this was developed in Japan I imagine the ideology of tree trimming differs from the typical western view. The Japanese actively prune tree not just for safety reasons but for aesthetics. It's that whole wabisabi [wikipedia.org] philosophy. So while it may not be good for giant oak trees, it seems perfect for routine tree maintenance. The roomba of tree pruning if you will.

      • (Score: 5, Informative) by frojack on Wednesday February 26 2014, @07:56PM

        by frojack (1554) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @07:56PM (#7508) Journal

        It's not a flawed Idea, nor is it designed to remove "just a few" branches. You are confusing urban tree trimming with actual forestry.

        Its designed to remove All Branches up to a certain height. This is typically done in dense stands of relatively straight trees such as you would find in a tree farm. [wikimedia.org]

        You typically want to keep under-story branches to a minimum, especially if your crop is for Poles (telephone poles, etc). Keeping lower branches cut makes the trees grow straight. Its also great for preventing grass fires from turning into crown fires.

        Some of these plantations are so dense that getting a bucket truck in there is hard, so they climb, (with boot spikes and a belt, leaving both hands free [wikimedia.org] to handle the saw (you can tell who ever wrote the summary has never worked in the woods).

        Anyway, depending on the weight of this thing, one or two guys could trim up branches from an acre of trees very quickly. And when you have 500 acres of the same type of tree that's pretty important.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by dotdotdot on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:20PM

    by dotdotdot (858) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:20PM (#7287)

    Such pruning is currently done by humans, who can't always use a cherry picker and sometimes have to climb the tree and operate the chainsaw one-handed. That is, not surprisingly, rather dangerous.

    It's only dangerous if you don't use the proper gear [wesspur.com] and don't know what you're doing. I've done this kind of work professionally, and if you're holding on to the tree or limb while you cut, then you're doing it wrong.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by buswolley on Wednesday February 26 2014, @03:01PM

      by buswolley (848) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @03:01PM (#7320)

      I am sure there are safe ways of doing the job. I do not doubt your expertise. However, the fact remains that any job on which a simple absent minded action kills you is a job that is dangerous, and prone to high rates of lethal accidents.

      --
      subicular junctures
      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by frojack on Wednesday February 26 2014, @08:05PM

        by frojack (1554) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @08:05PM (#7519) Journal

        any job on which a simple absent minded action kills you is a job that is dangerous

        You mean like driving to work?

        But hey, welcome to planet earth. Not everybody gets to sit at desks all day.
        Even dangerous jobs can be done safely by properly trained professionals.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 2) by buswolley on Thursday February 27 2014, @04:53AM

          by buswolley (848) on Thursday February 27 2014, @04:53AM (#7789)

          Fairly good point, maybe. I'm not completely convinced.
          http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-610 98-122913/unrestricted/milburn.pdf [vt.edu]
          It concluded "Conclusions:
          ƒ A worker performing equipment maintenance or repair, or a worker felling or
          delimbing a tree not processed by a feller-buncher or delimbing device, has the
          greatest risk of injury on fully-mechanized operations.
          ƒ Mechanization of the delimbing function will reduce but not eliminate the most costly
          injuries, where a worker on the ground is “struck-by†a tree, limb, or log.
          ƒ Equipment maintenance or repair should be performed in the controlled environment
          of a shop, rather than in the field, in order to decrease injuries.
          ƒ Operating a chainsaw is still a very dangerous logging job function, even on
          mechanized operations. All employees that use a chainsaw should undergo extensive
          training, and only trained employees should use a chainsaw."
          Except desk jobs ARE dangerous. Too much sitting kills.

          --
          subicular junctures
        • (Score: 1) by Rivenaleem on Thursday February 27 2014, @11:00AM

          by Rivenaleem (3400) on Thursday February 27 2014, @11:00AM (#7886)

          Hey, don't knock them paper cuts and freak stapler accidents!

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by chebucto on Wednesday February 26 2014, @04:12PM

      by chebucto (36) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @04:12PM (#7366) Journal

      That's like saying bears aren't dangerous as long as you know exactly how to behave around them and in their territory.

      Work at height is inherently dangerous; the fact that you need to use proper gear to avoid a broken neck is proof of that.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by dotdotdot on Wednesday February 26 2014, @05:49PM

        by dotdotdot (858) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @05:49PM (#7426)

        Maybe I should have been more precise in my quoting. I was referring specifically to this part of the summary:

        " ... operate the chainsaw one-handed. That is, not surprisingly, rather dangerous."

        That is doing it wrong. :)

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by weeds on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:37PM

    by weeds (611) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:37PM (#7293) Journal

    Do I dare say that?

    Anyhow, this is the first try and they make it clear there is work to be done:

    "Most of the testing of this robot has so far been in an "experimental forest," where the trees seem to be all about as straight and perfect as a sprouting telephone pole. Continuing research will involve making the robot a bit more robust towards different sorts of trees and foliage,..."

    • (Score: 1) by ikanreed on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:51PM

      by ikanreed (3164) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:51PM (#7310) Journal

      Previously unheard of technology has limited applications while edge cases are developed for. That doesn't mean it's not an impressive usage of image processing and robot control systems.

    • (Score: 3) by mcgrew on Wednesday February 26 2014, @03:22PM

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Wednesday February 26 2014, @03:22PM (#7328) Homepage Journal

      More like an alpha. Alpha: testing in-house. Beta: released to the public for final testing.

      --
      mcgrewbooks.com mcgrew.info nooze.org
  • (Score: 1) by whitehat on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:40PM

    by whitehat (3243) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:40PM (#7296)

    The smallest branch fall will kill this.

    • (Score: 1) by smurd on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:53PM

      by smurd (1406) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:53PM (#7314)

      They thought of that, it has an umbrella.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by nukkel on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:46PM

    by nukkel (168) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:46PM (#7301)

    welcome our chainsaw-wielding overlords.

    • (Score: 2) by Fluffeh on Wednesday February 26 2014, @11:58PM

      by Fluffeh (954) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 26 2014, @11:58PM (#7649) Journal

      I for one also welcome our chain-saw weilding overlords - but if they want to post an interesting clip on youtube - firstly don't use a soundtrack that can only be described as "bad eighties porn music" and for the love of god, if you have a tree-lopping robot video, show it lopping some trees at the start, not almost five minutes into a six minute video!

  • (Score: 2) by unitron on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:51PM

    by unitron (70) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @02:51PM (#7311) Journal

    ...as long as trees are the only things off of which it chops limbs.

    --
    something something Slashcott something something Beta something something
    • (Score: 2) by NecroDM on Wednesday February 26 2014, @03:39PM

      by NecroDM (376) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @03:39PM (#7342)

      You have to start small, skynet wasn't built in a day you know?

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by bitshifter on Wednesday February 26 2014, @03:42PM

    by bitshifter (2241) on Wednesday February 26 2014, @03:42PM (#7344)

    welcome our limb chopping robotic overlords.

    (What the heck, I have Karma to burn)