There is a lot of exciting TreeRover news to talk about! First we would like to announce that the TreeRover will be on display at DEMO International September 22nd -24th at the Malcolm Knapp Research Forest in Maple Ridge, BC. Come by the tree planting area to check out our new prototype planting mechanism.
Early this summer, Iota Technologies was approached by a team of UVic mechanical engineering students, lead by Kyle White, with an offer to do some work on the TreeRover for their final design project course. Kyle had already contributed to the TreeRover prototype by 3D printing the rack and pinion used in the reload mechanism.
A deal was made, and Iota Technologies grew! The team has worked hard over the summer to produce an upgraded planting mechanism for the TreeRover. The criteria was that it must be capable of planting a seedling successfully in “hard pack soil”. They have succeeded and the new planting mechanism is able to plant in extremely hard ground. It can even plants trees in a dense grassy lawn!
The original planting mechanism had many flaws and there was plenty of room for improvement. It was very limited in the types of soil it could successfully plant a tree in. The rate at which it could plant was also quite slow. Many of these problems stemmed from the fact that the whole system operated on compressed air. It seemed like a great idea at first, but compressing all that air required a lot of work. Our little onboard compressor was extremely slow and it ate up a lot of battery power. Even if we could have solved the compressor problem though, the force required to penetrate really hard soil with the planting spike was just too much for a pneumatic system.
The new planting mechanism is similar to the original one in some ways, but instead of using pneumatic actuators, it uses electric linear actuators made by Firgelli Automations. We would like to thank Firgelli Automations for their sponsorship! The other key upgrade that allows the new machine to plant in such tough conditions is the new tiller, which softens up the planting site before the spike is inserted.
Although we could only afford to upgrade the TreeRover’s planting mechanism for now, the mech team has used their CAD skills to redesign the entire TreeRover. In the Gallery you can find some renderings of the new design which includes a track system to replace the current wheels. We hope to be able to implement these changes soon!
Below is a photo of the entire team (minus Matt Mundell) presenting their new planting mechanism at UVic.