Canterbury University students have developed a robot that can swing between trees, in the hope it may one day be put to good use in forestry.
The mechanical engineering students have won the national Ray Meyer Medal, which is awarded to the best project from all universities and polytechnics.
The students who designed the tree-traversing robot were Scott Paulin, Sean Bayley, Thomas Gilbert and George Wareing. Their supervisor was Dr Stefanie Gutschmidt from UC and the industry mentor was Dr Richard Parker of the Crown Research Institute Scion.
Dr Gutschmidt says the bi-pedal robot can traverse small trees in the lab, but the aim is to make it four times larger so it can be used in a real forestry environment.
"The idea, conceived by the Crown Research Institute Scion, was to design a robot that could move from tree to tree for navigating through a forest, especially for steep slope harvesting."
She says it could be sent into difficult to reach areas to take tree samples, and ultimately cut trees down.