Food Industry News

Robot-herder help monitor the large herd

Robotic assistants have long simplified the lives of people in various fields. For example, one of them was instructed to milk the cows on the farms independently, and the other to fight weeds.

Now autonomous robots can replace shepherds.

For real city dwellers, we note that sheep farms or cattle farms are not just big, they are huge. For example, some pastures can sometimes stretch over hundreds of square kilometers, and it will take more than ten hours to cross such a field. And, as a rule, livestock on such large farms are rarely monitored. This means that workers at a large farm often do not know the condition of the animals.

This is where robots come to the rescue. During the two-year test, which will begin next month, a robotic assistant will be trained to graze cattle, monitor its health and check whether animals have enough pasture for food.

Sick or injured animals will be identified using thermal sensors and video sensors. So, robots will be able to detect changes in body temperature, or just walking an animal if something happens to it, says Salah Sukkarieh from the University of Sydney.

He and his colleagues intend to conduct a two-year test of their offspring on several farms in central New South Wales - a state in the south-east of Australia.

During the test, the Sukkareh team will tweak the robot worker's software to make sure that he can move around the trees, in the mud, overcome hills and swamps.

The developers say that their goal is to simplify the lives of farmers, as well as reduce dependence on feedlots. Because of them, some shepherds are forced to keep livestock indoors, but which are easy to control. So far, the farm has no name. But it is noted that this is a more sophisticated version of the earlier Shrimp model (“Shrimp”), which was designed to feed 20 to 150 cows. By the way, earlier the correspondents of “Vesti.Nauka” told about another development of the Sukkarekh group - the agricultural assistant of “Ladybird”.

If the new machines learn to cope with the duties of a shepherd and become quite cheap in production, in the future they will be able to take another farm position. Consequently, the concerns of some scientists that automated assistants may cause massive unemployment in the near future are not so groundless. However, who said that by that time people would not begin to receive higher education everywhere and work in much more high-tech areas?

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