Robot used to round up cows is a hit with farmers

Is it a man? Is it a dog? No, it's Rover, the robotic cow-herder

Related Stories

Robots could be used in the future to round up cows on dairy farms, according to researchers.

A four-wheeled device, known as Rover, has been tested by a team at Sydney University. It was used to move a herd of cows from a field to a dairy.

Researchers were amazed at how easily cows accepted the presence of the robot.

They were not fazed by it and the herding process was calm and effective, they said.

Because the robot moved in a steady manner it allowed cows to move at their own speed which was important in reducing lameness among cattle, Dr Kendra Kerrisk, dairy researcher and associate professor, told the BBC.

Robots are already used in the milking process but the team wanted to see if they could be used in other areas of dairy farming.

The robot was adapted from one that was already being used to monitor fruit and trees on farms. A team at Sydney University's Centre for Field Robotics modified the robot so that it could be put in a field with cows in order for the researchers to gather data on robot-bovine interaction.

The prototype needs to be operated by a human but it's hoped that in the future a version can be developed that will be fully automated.

Extremely excited

As well as herding cows a new version could also collect information useful for farmers.

According to the research team, the robot could be used at night to move slowly through the maternity paddock monitoring cows that are due to calve. It could also be used to gather data on soil and detect problems with electric fences.

Cows and milk churns Using robots to get cows to the dairy will be better for their well-being say researchers

"The research is in its very early stages but robotic technologies certainly have the potential to transform dairy farming," said Dr Kerrisk.

"When we have discussed this concept with farmers they have been extremely excited and we have had a flurry of calls and emails asking how they can get hold of one," she added.

The robot could also cut down the number of accidents involving humans on farms. Most dairy farmers in Australia use quad bikes to round up their cattle and they are one of the leading causes of injury. The team hopes that by using the robot to do the job instead, accident rates could fall.

Since demonstrating the robot at a dairy symposium in Australia earlier in the year the team has secured funding to develop Rover the robot, mark II.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Technology stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa


  • Woman in swimming pool Green stuff

    The element that makes a familiar smell when mixed with urine


  • People take part in an egg-cracking contest in the village of Mokrin, 120km (75 miles) north of Belgrade, Serbia on 20 April 2014In pictures

    Images from around the world as Christians mark Easter Sunday


  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health


BBC Future

(SID)

Road designs that trick our minds

Subconscious signs used for safer driving Read more...

Programmes

  • An aerial shot shows the Olympic Stadium, which is closed for repair works on its roof, in Rio de Janeiro March 28, 2014.Extra Time Watch

    Will Rio be ready in time to host the Olympics in 2016? The IOC president gives his verdict

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.