The Swedish startup AirForestry, together with Sveaskog, is developing a prototype drone to be used in thinning. The carbon device will weigh around 80 kg with a wingspan of 6.2 m. It transports a 60kg lightweight harvester unit that is said to be able to fell logs up to 0.06m³.
This could work as follows: the drone, batteries and harvester unit are transported to the site of operation on a car trailer. There you position the drone over the tree to be removed. In the test phase, it will be marked from the ground, later the drone will recognize it autonomously. Once a tree has been selected, the head delimbs it from top to bottom and cuts off the trunk. She then flies the raw shaft to a collection point, where it can be further processed. The batteries of the drone can also be changed there.
As Managing Director Olle Gelin reports, he expects a comparable work performance to that of the harvester and forwarder. When harvesting wood with a drone, skid lanes would no longer be necessary. He also promises less damage to the remaining stock. Above all, the system in Sweden could save more than 150,000 t CO₂ per year and increase the carbon dioxide absorption of the forests by 1 million t per year.
The harvester head has already been tested.