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Robot Clears Tree-Infested Rangeland
Oklahoma has a lot of rangeland invaded by cedar trees. Collin Craige’s robotic chainsaw is designed to wipe them out.
    “The jaws grip the tree to provide stability, while the head of the saw rotates as it cuts the tree,” says Craige, a graduate student in the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at Oklahoma State University. “The jaws tilt the tree forward so the chainsaw doesn’t bind.”
    Working with Dr. Michael Buser, Craige designed and built the 42-in. long, 36-in. wide unit. It has a mechanical arm that can reach 3 ft. past the frame and is curved to reach down into a depression to cut a tree flush with the ground.
    The 14-in. chainsaw is powered by a 1/4 hp. motor designed for powered wheelchairs. The 13-in. drive wheels are power tiller wheels. A credit card sized computer board provides the “brains”. It controls 10 motors and actuators on the mechanical arm.
    “If we went with a tree shears instead of the chainsaw, we would need only 2 actuators to raise it up and down,” notes Craige. “We went with the chainsaw, as it can cut trees up to 3 in. in diameter, and we think it could girdle larger ones.”
    The robot runs on two 12-volt batteries with up to 120 min. of power. Craige designed it so it could charge at a base station or recharge using solar panels in the field.
    A small GPS unit helps it locate trees that a small drone has previously geolocated on a field map. As the drone flies over an area, it recognizes trees larger than 2 to 3 ft. tall.
    When the unit arrives at a point identified by the drone as having a tree, on-board LIDAR and a camera are used to position the saw. If no tree is detected, the rig moves on to the next point.
    Craige built the drone and robot for about $5,000. He estimates a manufactured version might cost around $15,000.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, 223 Ag Hall, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla. 74078 (ph 405 744-2398; cccraig@okstate.edu) or Dr. Michael Buser (buser@okstate.edu).

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2018 - Volume #42, Issue #2