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Published: 2024-01-30 Updated: 2024-01-31, 16:08

Funding awarded to new 3-year research project on AI-based automation

NEWS Technological innovation in autonomous machinery is accelerating, and the forestry industry is not standing on the sidelines. In the foreseeable future, automation is expected to reduce risks in forestry, but there is also a lack of knowledge about potential new risks that may arise. A new research project at the Department of Informatics will investigate how AI-based automation affects safety in forestry.

Artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation not only enables improved efficiency but also increased safety in many industries. The forestry industry is likely to see a significant increase in the use of AI-based automation, where learning algorithms collaborate with forestry machines.

AI-based autonomy can improve safety but also introduce new risks.

Daniel Nylén, Associate Professor at the Department of Informatics, has been awarded 3,668,000 SEK from AFA Försäkring to study how AI-based automation can affect safety in forestry.

Learning algorithms for hazard detection

In both forestry and other heavy industries, work practices often involves handling heavy and complex vehicles and machinery. AI-based automation can be an effective solution to reduce workplace accidents by partially or completely replacing tasks previously carried out by humans. Algorithmic systems that analyze and process data from sensors, control systems, and other components in forestry machines can be used to detect risky deviations and hazards faster and more systematically than humans.

- The project idea grew out of the observation that AI-based autonomy not only offers opportunities to improve workplace safety but can also have unintended consequences and introduce new risks, says Daniel Nylén, Associate Professor at the Department of Informatics, Umeå University.

New insights from an experienced research team

By gaining a deeper understanding of the complex processes that AI-based automation in forestry entails, the project will seek to provide new insights to inform future implementations of AI-based automation.

The team which will conduct the research over the next three years, includes not only Daniel Nylén but also Aron Lindberg - Associate Professor at Stevens Institute of Technology, USA, and guest lecturer at Umeå University, Maria Åkesson - Professor at Halmstad University and guest professor at Umeå University.