by Jaakko Jutila
Finland — the land of a thousand lakes and forests — is located in northern Europe. Water
covers 10% of the total area of 338,000 square kilometers, and forests cover up to three fourths
of the area. The country is the most forested one in Europe. The population totals approx.
5. 3 million and in every square kilometer there lives approx. 15. 5 inhabitants in average (1).
In the US, for example, there are approx. 30. 6 inhabitants per square kilometer (2).
Tforestry and forest machines. The mean temperatures
go down to - 5. 7°C in February and in July + 17°C. This
he terrain is fairly flat, which is a good thing for
climate is good for the four main tree species in Finland.
Nearly 50% of the timber consists of pine, the other three
common species are spruce, downy birch, and silver birch ( 3).
Forestry has long roots in the history of Finland and
wood and paper products have the third biggest export
share with about 20.3% of the total export. Forest
research is also at a high level in Finland and, for example,
the soil type of most of the forests is known. (1)
The Forestrix Project
As forest industry is moving towards more automated
machines and efficient production control, there is a
growing interest on data gathering from inside the forests.
The traditional way of manual or aerial measurements has
strict limitations on what kind of data can be gathered and
how accurately. So, what does this have to do with robots?
The motivation for this project is twofold and
both of the sides are heavily related to the application
of sensor technology. The first motivation relates to
knowledge that can be gathered while moving
through the forest. The trees that are left standing
can be mapped and many kind of statistics can be
gathered. When the structure of the soil of the
specific forest lot is known, this measurement
information can be very useful in forest management
and planning. The information gathered during the
thinning can be valuable when evaluating when the
final harvest should be made and what kind of wood
material can be expected from it.
The other part of the motivation relates to the
human aspect of forest machine operation. Forest
machines are difficult to control and operator training
is time-consuming and expensive. The working
conditions can also be very exhausting to the operator. Long work shifts, repetitive movements, and the
relentless concentration can be very wearing in the
FIGURE 1. Ponsse forest harvester.
46 SERVO 04.2009