ABB Robotics Remotely Programs Cobot in Amazon Reforestation Project

ABB and nonprofit Junglekeepers say pilot project demonstrates the potential of robots and the cloud in reversing deforestation.

ABB Robotics

A dual-armed ABB YuMi robot conducts planting operations at Junglekeepers' laboratory.
ABB Robotics' solar-powered YuMi robot automates seed planting and uses RobotStudio cloud technology, which enables ABB to program the system in real time from Sweden.

ABB Robotics today said that a pilot project with Junglekeepers, a U.S. non-profit organization, is demonstrating how robotics and cloud computing can make reforestation efforts faster, more efficient, and scalable.

“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.”

Zurich-based ABB said its electrification and automation technologies enable a more sustainable and resource-efficient future. The ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation business unit said its portfolio includes industrial automation, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), and software. ABB Robotics employs about 11,000 people at more than 100 locations in approximately 53 countries.

Junglekeepers turns to technology

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, said Junglekeepers. More than 870,000 km² (335,908 sq. mi.) of the Amazon rainforest have been cleared since 1985, an area larger than France, the U.K., and Belgium combined, estimated the Science Panel for the Amazon. With tens of billions of trees already being gone, the region is warming fast.

“The Amazon is in danger,” said Dennis del Castillo Torres, director of forest management research at the Peruvian Amazon Research Institute. “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,” he 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.”

Oakland, Calif.-based Junglekeepers works with international experts and local communities to protect the Amazon rainforest and reverse deforestation. For more than two years, the organization said it has been protecting the land, pushing back on illegal logging, and documenting a number of unique species endemic in the Madre de Dios region of the Peruvian Amazon.

Within the current boundaries of the 55,000-acre reserve protected by Junglekeepers, incidents of illegal logging have reportedly dropped by over 90%, and incidents of illegal land acquisition have dropped to almost zero.

ABB helps Junglekeepers reforestation project

Click on image to enlarge. Source: ABB Robotics

YuMi cobot aids reforestation effort

ABB Robotics said its YuMi collaborative robot is automating seed-planting tasks in a jungle laboratory in the first demonstration of its kind. The company said the cobot is speeding the process and allowing Junglekeepers’ volunteers to focus their time and resources on more impactful work.

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

Junglekeepers has installed a YuMi in its lab in a remote region of the Peruvian Amazon to automate tasks that are usually entirely manual. The cobot digs a hole in the soil, drops a 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, Junglekeepers’ volunteers are able to focus on work such as patrolling the area to deter illegal loggers, educating locals on the preservation of the rainforest, and planting mature saplings.

Creating an autonomous cobot installation also overcomes the difficulty of finding people willing to stay and work in the distant jungle location, the company said. After its initial installation, YuMi can carry out tasks with human troubleshooting only as needed, said ABB.

“Having Yumi at our base is a great way to expose our rangers to new ways of doing things,” Kazmi said. “It accelerates and expands our operations and advances our mission.”

ABB RobotStudio Cloud

ABB RobotStudio Cloud allows experts to simulate, refine, and deploy the programming from 12,000 km (7,460 mi.) away in Västerås, Sweden – enabling the world’s most remote robot, claimed ABB.

The technology enables teams all over the world to collaborate in real time, the company said. This new way of remote programming enables new levels of flexibility and instant refinement, resulting in greater efficiency and resilience, and no loss of planting time, claimed ABB.

With more than 25 years of offline programming experience, RobotStudio offers best-in-class digital technology, enabling 99% accuracy between simulation and reality, asserted the company. This allows users to reduce time for testing robotic solutions by 50% and takes production downtimes to zero, it said.

ABB Robotics’ pilot project in the Amazon furthers its objective to contribute to sustainable transformation through intelligent robotics and automation, supporting businesses to increase productivity, reduce waste, and maximize efficiency.

Last year, 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 printing.

Junglekeepers specified that 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 said it plans to explore opportunities to assist Junglekeepers on a more extended basis.

ABB Robotics and Junglekeepers, a non-profit dedicated to replanting the Amazon rainforest in Peru, have joined forces to work on a special pilot program. Our mission: to find ways of using technology to help with one of the biggest problems of our time, the destruction of the rainforest, while freeing up rangers' time to patrol and teach locals about the importance of preserving this precious resource.

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A dual-armed ABB YuMi robot conducts planting operations at Junglekeepers' laboratory.

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