Sweden: Airforestry electric drone for forest thinning
Wednesday 11 May 2022
“We have been working in secret for almost two years and already have paying customers among Europe’s largest forest owners. But now it’s time for our public launch. We want to tell you about our concept, which is to thin trees from the air with electric drones “, says Caroline Walerud, who is co-founder and chairman of Airforestry, which has 13 employees in Uppsala.
There are several advantages of the technology – and its 6 meter wide drones – she says.
“You reduce the climate footprint, avoid back roads and heavy machinery, and get healthier, more vital forests. The forest’s carbon dioxide uptake is increased. In addition, you get rid of half as much energy per thinned tree “, she says.
Caroline Walerud is also a partner at Walerud Ventures, which accounted for half of the approximately SEK 9 million in venture capital that Airforestry has raised so far.
The rest come from a number of well-known business angels: Alfred Ruth, who co-founded Videoplaza, Malin Carlström, who is venture manager at ABB Electrification, Anders Ösund, who is head of technology and innovation at Combient in the Wallenbergsfären and Andy Johnston, who is a partner at Brightly Ventures.
Airforestry has also received SEK 12 million in grants from Vinnova within the framework of a project with a total budget of SEK 30 million.
The drone - Their high- capacity drone is 6.2 meters in diameter. With it, we are building the forestry of the future. With the drone, trees can be thinned from the air and then transported to the nearest road. We design according to a development process that includes traceability. It has a specially designed structure in carbon fiber and angled rotors, to achieve the precision flying necessary to carry the tool and tree. Here you see the drone together with the team that put it together for the first time in October 2021.
The harvesting tool A 60 kilo light harvesting tool is carried by the drone to the selected tree. Once in place, the tool grabs the top of the tree, hugs it, prunes off the branches on the way down and then saws off the trunk. Thereafter, the tool secures the tree so that the drone can carry it all the way to the nearest road. This is a completely new way of thinning forest.
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