This Cute Little Robot Is Helping Reverse Deforestation In The Amazon

The Amazon rainforest or more widely referred to as the “lungs of the planet,” is facing a serious problem. Approximately one-third of the rainforest has already been destroyed or damaged.

A recent report from the World Economic Forum reveals that since 1985, over 870,000 square kilometers of the Amazon rainforest, mainly used for agriculture, have been cleared.

A non-profit organization known as Junglekeepers is determined to protect 55,000 acres of the Peruvian Amazon. To assist them in their mission, they have enlisted the help of a collaborative robot, also known as a cobot, named YuMi, provided by ABB Robotics.

“As of right now, we have lost 20 percent of the total area of the Amazon rainforest; without using technology today, conservation will be at a standstill,” said Junglekeepers co-founder, Moshin Kazmi. “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.”

Although originally developed in 2015 to meet the manufacturing needs of the consumer electronics industry, YuMi’s dual arms, flexible gripper, component location camera, and precise motion control make it suitable for small parts assembly in various applications.

The robot was designed to work alongside humans, and in this case, it operates in a remote jungle lab in Paddington country, taking over the laborious task of planting seeds.

The process is simple: YuMi digs a hole in a container of soil, places a seed inside, covers it, and pats it down. Then, a color-coded tag is added to the container before the cobot moves on to the next one. YuMi can plant a seed in 12 seconds per container or 3.5 minutes per crate. Each planting session involves 640 crates.

After the cobot completes its task, human volunteers from Junglekeepers transfer a full crate to the nursery for further planting. With the help of the robot, ABB reports that an area equivalent to two soccer fields can be planted every day.

The robot’s actions are programmed and fine-tuned by a team in Västerås, Sweden, over 12,000 kilometers away, using ABB’s RobotStudio Cloud technology. Once set up, the cobot can work autonomously, with remote technicians available for troubleshooting.

Aside from providing much-needed assistance in this remote region, the pilot project allows human volunteers to focus on more impactful tasks, such as planting mature saplings, patrolling for illegal loggers, and educating locals about rainforest preservation.

The combination of human and robotic efforts offers a promising solution to the reforestation challenge in the Amazon rainforest.

“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.”

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