Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Tree Bot

Packed with environmental sensors, an Internet-linked robot patrols the forest canopy.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’sa robot in the trees? At the Wind River Canopy Crane Research Facility in Carson, WA, scientists have deployed a briefcase-size robot that rolls along a 50-meter-high cable strung between trees. Built by electrical engineer William Kaiser’s team at the University of California, Los Angeles, the robot comes equipped with environmental sensors, a still camera, a processor, batteries, solar cells, and a wireless link to the Internet. Programmed to patrol the forest canopy, the high-rolling robot maps changes in temperature, humidity, and sunlight. The researchers plan that in the future the device will also monitor carbon dioxide concentration, while documenting the growth of individual leaves and branches-measurements that were previously hard to make. The National Science Foundation is footing the bill, to pinpoint how much carbon and heat the trees absorb from the atmosphere; this could help researchers predict the climatic effects of harvesting and deforestation. Deployments are planned in three other forests by springtime, says Kaiser.

Other Prototypes

Drivers: Pay Attention

This story is part of our December 2003/January 2004 Issue
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe

Games on the Grid

Great Balls of Fire

Bomb Buster

Security in Black and White

Digital Sketch Pad

HIV Monitor

Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.

Subscribe today
Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Online Only.
  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.