World-Changing Dreamer: Geoffrey Cooper

By Aurelien

IFWE

Last but not least in our series about IF WE Challenge dreamers, here comes our great winner Geoffrey Cooper. His IF WE Dream was “IF WE designed a rolling tree planting robot, we can send them out to replant forests and restore a deserted land. Let’s make it happen!!“. Geoffrey is anindustrial designer coming from Canada and lived in Los Angeles at the time of the challenge.

So without further ado, watch the video below to see Geoffrey’s brilliant idea illustrated:

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Q: Could you let us know where the idea of a rolling tree planting robot came from?

The tree planting robot idea was inspired by my step-brother, who worked as a tree planter in Canada for many years. From him, I learned how difficult it is for people to plant and maintain trees in remote areas, and how important it is to keep our forests alive. That topic lingered in my mind for a long time, and I also looked into the topic of desertification. I discovered that many deserts and plains around the world were once thriving forests, but turned into barren land because of the impact left by man, animals, and climate change.

While I was an Industrial Design student in college, I came up with the idea of designing a rolling tree planting robot that would tackle this problem. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to fit the project into my curriculum, but I have thought extensively about it, and would like to pursue it.

Q: More specifically, how would you see the rolling planting robot actually work?

I envision a group of autonomous tree-planting robots sent out into a deforested area, that would work together to achieve the tasks necessary for planting and ensuring the growth of trees. These tasks would include navigating natural terrain with the use of sensors, coordinating with other tree planting robots working nearby, loading saplings from a larger vessel, boring holes into the ground for the saplings, and cutting away the weeds around planted trees to ensure their growth. The robots would also be able to scan the elements in a landscape to determine the most habitable areas for the trees. After several weeks, the robots would return to the same location to maintain and check the status of the young trees.

The robots would be small (maybe the size of a wheelbarrow), would traverse terrain on wheels, and would be powered partially by solar panels on top of the robots. The robots would work alongside a human operator who would oversee a fleet of tree planting robots. The operator would plan out the operation, and could be on-site in case anything goes wrong.

Q: How would you like to see this idea developped?

I am very interested in making this idea a reality, and would be interested in working with Dassault Systèmes on it if possible. I currently work as an Interaction Designer, and have a background in Industrial Design, so I am confident with my abilities to design systems and physical devices that could work cohesively. The area of the robot project that I am not so familiar with is the robotics, programming, and manufacturing of such a robot. As with any project, I believe that strong teamwork creates big changes, and I believe that such a team could be assembled for the tree planting robot project.

Stay tuned to see how we helped Geoffrey get started with his project :-)



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