A Tasmanian PhD student’s arborist drone has won him a 2020 Science and Innovation Award for Young People.

Mechanical engineer and University of Tasmania PhD student Sean Krisanski has been announced as one of the winners of the 2020 Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. More than just recognition of great ideas, the awards come with an attached grant of up to $22,000 to find projects that will contribute to the success of Australia’s agricultural sector.

Krisanski took out the Forest & Wood Products Australia Award sponsored by FWPA for his development of a flying robot that can collect samples from the forest canopy. Currently the job involves hiring an arborist at considerable expense and risk, both of which are much less for a remote-controlled drone with a small integrated saw.

The major challenge is building a drone that can tolerate running into trees. “I will be designing a 3D-printed airframe which will protect the rotors and make the system fairly robust to the inevitable collisions with branches,” Krisanski says.

His research, in which he collaborates with other researchers in the forestry sector at the University of Tasmania’s ARC Centre for Forest Value as well as forestry companies for field trials, has already included building several drones that fly under the tree canopy mapping the forest.

FWPA’s Managing Director, Ric Sinclair, said Krisanski’s win is well deserved and highlights the importance of young Australian scientists to the future of forestry.

“We extend our congratulations to Sean. It was an impressive field of candidates and the selection process was robust,” he said.

“It’s inspiring to see so many young scientists working on such important projects. I am confident that the contribution made by these young leaders will advance the forestry industry and keep us at the forefront of research and development.”

For more on the science awards, visit www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/conferences-events/scienceawards and for more on the UTAS ARC, visit www.utas.edu.au/arc-forest-value