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

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.
Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all five of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium

$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from undefined

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.

  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Join in and ask questions as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

You've read of free articles this month.