Paul Bunyan Robot Dives For Trees

Paul Bunyan Robot Dives For Trees

Sawfish is a real-life robotic underwater lumberjack; it swims down to harvest trees that are now underwater due to flooding to create reservoirs.

The Triton Sawfish Underwater Harvester is the world's first viable marine technology for logging underwater forests. It is the only deep water logging machine. Piloted and powered remotely, it has eight video cameras as well as sonar to fully inform the remote operator (see detailed photo).

Because water buoyancy helps, it can handle larger trees than land-based mechanical harvesters. It carries from 37-50 reusable inflatable bags to float trees to the surface for recovery and processing (one bag per tree). A 55" electric chain saw is used to perform the cutting.

The Sawfish even uses biodegradable vegetable oil for its hydraulic system. The Sawfish has received awards like Building Green's Top Ten Green Building Products, because it can reach this otherwise lost resource. It is estimated that there are over one hundred billion linear board feet of usable timber submerged in the world's lakes and reservoirs—an estimated 300 million trees. It has also been certified by the Rainforest Alliance in its underwater logging/salvaging techniques, because it does not harm the floor of the lake (also a concern in bottom trawling of the sea floor during fishing).

Surprisingly, the wood harvested from underwater sources can sell for a bit more than wood taken from dry land. That's because it is often "old-growth timber," which is denser and more stable than the lumber from tree farms.

Underwater technology has made great strides in other areas; take a look at these prototypes:

Read more at the Triton company website.

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from —where science meets fiction.)

Bill Christensen catalogues the inventions, technology and ideas of science fiction writers at his website, Technovelgy. He is a contributor to Live Science.