Date

2019

Major

Mechanical Engineering (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Minchul Shin

Abstract

Georgia’s forests are under threat from numerous invasive species of plant, both herbaceous and woody. A primary factor in the invasive potential of any given non-native plant is the lack of natural predators and rapid reseed and regrowth cycles. To combat invasive plants, this thesis proposes an artificial, robotic predator to provide a means of controlling invasive species. Although autonomous robots are currently being developed for similar agricultural purposes, none have emerged for forestry related tasks, such as proposed in this work. The chassis, inspired by rocker bogie and similar suspension systems, has been redesigned to have eight wheels, to elongate the wheelbase and shrink the width. Saplings will be cut down using a geared motor driving a pair of blades flexibly mounted to the front of the robot. The high gear reduction from motor to shear blades will generate the required torque and also help prevent accidental entrapment by animals or humans, since the blades of the shear will move slowly. Removed saplings will also be targeted with herbicide delivered precisely through the use of a delta-style actuation system mounted on the underside of the chassis. Forestry robotics has potential to produce positive results when used in conjunction with other forestry service operations. Forestry robotics could be used to control unwanted species, clear trails, and maintain healthy vegetation density.

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