ABB Robotics has developed a pilot project, using a collaborative robot (cobot) called YuMi, in collaboration non-profit organization Junglekeepers to demonstrate the potential of robots in reversing deforestation.
YuMi uses solar power to automate seed planting, speeding up reforestation in the Amazon and making the process more efficient. Using ABB’s RobotStudio Cloud Technology, ABB experts simulated, refined and deployed robotic programming in real-time from 12,000 km (7,460 miles) away in Västerås, Sweden, making YuMi one of the most remote robots on the planet.
“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,” Sami Atiya, president of ABB Robotics and Discrete Automation, said. “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.”
The cobot is automating planting tasks in a jungle laboratory in a remote region of the Peruvian Amazon, speeding the process and allowing Junglekeepers’ volunteers to focus their time and resources on more impactful work, like patrolling the area to deter illegal loggers, educating locals on the preservation of the rainforest and planting mature saplings.
YuMi is able to dig a hole in the soil, drop the seeds in, compact the soil on top and mark it with a color-coded tag. With YuMi, Junglekeepers is able to replant an area the size of two soccer fields every two days in zones that require reforestation.
“As of right now, we have lost 20% of the total area of Amazon rainforest; without using technology today, conservation will be at a standstill,” Moshin Kazmi, Co-Founder of Junglekeepers, said. “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.”
YuMi doesn’t just make reforestation faster and more efficient, it also allows Junglekeepers to continue doing reforestation work without having to find people willing to stay and work in a distant jungle location. After installation, YuMi works autonomously, and will only need troubleshooting as issues arise.
“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,” Dennis del Castillo Torres, Director of Forest Management Research at the Peruvian Amazon Research Institute, said. “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.”
In accordance with the wishes of Junglekeepers, the pilot project will last for six weeks, across May and June 2023. After the program wraps up, ABB plans to continue exploring opportunities to assist Junglekeepers on a more extended basis.