Thinnings drone works from above

An innovative Swedish start-up has been in stealth mode since the start of 2020, but now they have finally revealed their pioneering technology for forest management – a thinnings drone.

“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 of Airforestry, which has 13 employees and is based in Uppsala, Sweden.

Their high-capacity drone is 6.2 metres in diameter.

“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 fibre and angled rotors, to achieve the precision flying necessary to carry the tool and tree,” explained Caroline.

The drone carries a 60 kg harvesting tool 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 away to the nearest road. This is a completely new way of thinning a forest.

One of the main benefits of the system is that there is no heavy equipment compacting the sensitive forest floor during the thinnings operation.