The world’s first AI-controlled forest machine trained in Umeå

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in creating a self-driving forest machine controlled by artificial intelligence. In a research study at Umeå University, an AI system was developed that can operate the 16-ton machine without human intervention. The study has been carried out in collaboration with Skogforsk and Algoryx Simulation. Umeå University writes this in a press release.

AI control of robots requires large amounts of training data, which is costly and risky when it comes to heavy machines. Pre-training in a simulated environment solves this, but there is always some discrepancy with reality. A research study at Umeå University shows that this obstacle can be overcome also for large and complex systems.

Viktor Wiberg

Viktor Wiberg, researcher at Algoryx Simulation and former doctoral student at Umeå University. Image. Photo: Viktor Wiberg.

At Skogforsk’s test site in Jälla outside Uppsala, the first successful trials have been carried out. In the tests, an AI was given the task to control a heavy forest machine, navigate over various obstacles, and follow a planned route. The AI ​​had been trained in advance on Umeå University’s supercomputer in several million training steps.

“The results show that it is possible to transfer AI control to a physical forest machine after first training it in a simulated environment,” says Viktor Wiberg, researcher at Algoryx Simulation, whose doctoral thesis at Umeå University forms the basis of the work.

This is the first time that someone has succeeded in demonstrating autonomous control of a machine as complex as a forestry machine using AI.

The research study has been published in two articles and will be presented during the world congress in forest research, IUFRO, in Stockholm.

Read the full press release at Umeå University’s website

Read more about the project in Mistra Digital Forest’s annual report