World’s most remote robot helps automate Amazon jungle reforestation project

    Pilot project between ABB Robotics and non-profit organization Junglekeepers demonstrates potential of robotics and Cloud technology in reversing deforestation

    ABB YuMi Robot
    ABB Robotics Amazon reforestation pilot YuMi plants 640 seed bags per morning during the pilot program

    A pilot project between ABB Robotics and US non-profit organization Junglekeepers is demonstrating the role Cloud technology can play in making reforestation faster, more efficient and scalable.

    ABB Robotics is supporting Junglekeepers in their mission to protect 55,000 acres of Amazon rainforest and reverse deforestation. In a first-of-its-kind demonstration, ABB’s cobot YuMi is automating planting tasks in a jungle laboratory, speeding the process and allowing Junglekeepers’ volunteers to focus their valuable time and resources on more impactful work.

    Through ABB RobotStudio Cloud technology, ABB experts simulate, refine and deploy the programming required for YuMi’s tasks in the jungle from 12,000 kms (7,460 miles) away Västerås, Sweden – enabling the world’s most remote robot.

    “ABB’s collaboration with Junglekeepers demonstrates how robotics and Cloud technology can play a central role in fighting deforestation as one of the major contributors to climate change”, said Sami Atiya, President of ABB Robotics and Discrete Automation. “Our pilot program with the world’s most remote robot is helping automate highly repetitive tasks, freeing up rangers to undertake more important work out in the rainforest and helping them to conserve the land they live on.”

    In a jungle lab, located in a remote region of the Peruvian Amazon, a YuMi cobot has been installed to automate essential tasks in the seed planting process, usually an entirely manual effort. The cobot digs a hole in the soil, drops the seed in, compacts the soil on top and marks it with a color-coded tag. YuMi enables Junglekeepers to replant an area the size of two soccer fields every day in zones requiring reforestation.

    At the same time, by automating this task, Junglekeepers’ volunteers are able to focus their valuable time and resources on more impactful work, such as patrolling the area to deter illegal loggers, educating locals on the preservation of the rainforest and planting mature saplings.

    ABB Robotics Amazon reforestation pilot

    Creating a fully remote and autonomous cobot installation also overcomes the difficulty of finding people willing to stay and work in the distant jungle location. After its initial installation, YuMi can carry out its tasks autonomously, with only trouble shooting as needed.

    “As of right now, we have lost 20 percent of the total area of Amazon rainforest; without using technology today, conservation will be at a standstill,” said Moshin Kazmi, Co-Founder of Junglekeepers. “Having Yumi at our base is a great way to expose our rangers to new ways of doing things. It accelerates and expands our operations and advances our mission.”

    The destruction of the Amazon rainforest through human activities such as logging and burning to clear land for agriculture are contributing to the devastating effects of climate change. It is estimated that more than 870,000 km² of the Amazon rainforest have been cleared since 1985, an area larger than France, United Kingdom and Belgium combined.1 With tens of billions of trees already being gone, the region is warming fast.

    “The Amazon is in danger. That’s why we need technology, science and local knowledge to work together in order to save it. Otherwise, we will be too late. The rainforest can be saved, but we must bring together all these elements to make a difference,” said Dennis del Castillo Torres, Director of Forest Management Research at the Peruvian Amazon Research Institute. “It is very important to have a combination of high technology and conservation. There are many technologies that we can use to preserve the forest, and this robot can help a lot to reforest faster, but we have to be very selective. We have to use it in areas of high deforestation to speed up the process of replanting.”

    The pilot project is supported by ABB’s RobotStudio Cloud technology, enabling teams all over the world to collaborate in real time. This remote new way of programming enables new levels of flexibility and instant refinement, resulting in greater efficiency and resilience, and no loss of planting time. With more than 25 years of offline programming experience, RobotStudio offers best-in-class digital technology, enabling 99 percent accuracy between simulation and reality. This allows users to reduce time for testing robotic solutions by 50 percent and takes production downtimes to zero.

    World’s most remote robot helps Amazon jungle reforestation project
    World’s most remote robot helps Amazon jungle reforestation project

    ABB Robotics’ pilot project in the Amazon furthers its objective to contribute to sustainable transformation through intelligent robotics and automation solutions, supporting businesses to increase productivity, reduce waste and maximize efficiency. In 2022, ABB Robotics collaborated with the Parley Global Cleanup network, a non-profit organization collecting marine plastic waste, to create personalized designer items such as recycled furniture, using 3D additive printing. In accordance with the wishes of Junglekeepers, the pilot scheme in the rainforest with RobotStudio Cloud and YuMi will last for approximately six weeks (across May and June 2023). Following the conclusion of the pilot program, ABB will explore opportunities to assist Junglekeepers on a more extended basis as well as exploring further opportunities for its robotic solutions and cloud technologies to play a central role in driving sustainable transformation.

    오승모 기자
    오승모 기자
    기술로 이야기를 만드는 "테크 스토리텔러". 아이씨엔 미래기술센터 수석연구위원이며, 아이씨엔매거진 편집장을 맡고 있습니다. 디지털 전환을 위한 데이터에 기반한 혁신 기술들을 국내 엔지니어들에게 쉽게 전파하는데 노력하는 중입니다.
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