March 8, 2007 The logging of forests is a very expensive affair, and when there’s a lot of money involved, you can always count on some very special machinery. Two perfect illustrations of this are Plustech/TimberJack/John Deere’s walking tractor prototype (videos here, here and here) and Triton Logging's Sawfish Underwater Harvester. The value of underwater forests in Canada was deemed so large that Triton has developed the Sawfish, a 3-tonne, 3.5-metre-long, yellow submersible with high-resolution cameras so an operator can direct it from the surface. The Sawfish then grasps the base of the tree with its powerful pincers, attaches an inflatable flotation bag to the tree, fills the bag with compressed air and then it cuts the tree with its 1.5-metre chainsaw and the flotation bag carries it to the surface – it can actually handle larger trees than any land-based mechanical harvester due to water buoyancy. As the world’s only deep-water logging machine, it’s a mash-up of remote control, timber-harvesting and submarine technology that can cut down a dozen trees in an hour, at depths of up to 300 metres. The machines are now available to other logging companies at a price around US$750,000 and with no new roads to build and no fires to control, logging underwater suddenly makes economic sense.
The options continue to expand for those of us who'd rather sit on a garden lounge than tackle the task of cutting copious tracts of lawn. Earlier this week we looked at Bosch's foray into the robo-mower market, now it's time for a closer look at John Deere's autonomous offering - the all-weather TANGO E5.
NEW PICS - UPDATED October 29, 2004 John Deere and iRobot have unveiled the Military R-Gator, an intelligent unmanned ground vehicle that will use off-the-shelf technology to autonomously perform dangerous and taxing missions. The R-Gator combines John Deere's rugged utility Gator with iRobot's robotics technology.
The Robotic Gator, or R-Gator as it is called, is built on the combat-proven John Deere M-Gator military utility vehicle platform, and enhanced with proven iRobot military robotic controls and navigation and obstacle avoidance systems.
The intelligent, durable and flexible R-Gator is designed to serve numerous important roles, including acting as an unmanned scout, "point man," perimeter guard, pack/ammo/supply carrier and more for soldiers, marines and airmen.