Livestock farmers, meanwhile, face a number of competing and complex issues, such as high labor and fuel costs, as well as animal welfare and mismanagement concerns. These were the reasons for the development of SwagBot.
SwagBot is an electric ground vehicle that can be used for a broad range of agricultural activities. Operating autonomously, SwagBot is able to identify and manage weed levels, monitor pasture quality and herd livestock. SwagBot can herd cows, tow heavy trailers, is able to traverse rugged terrain and has been designed to manage livestock on Australia’s vast sheep and cattle stations, which are often far away and difficult to access.
A trial has confirmed that SwagBot is able to herd cattle and can navigate its way around ditches, logs, swamps, and can bypass other obstacles of a typical farm landscape. The next step will be to teach the robot how to identify animals that are sick or injured. The team is planning to fit the robot with temperature and motion sensors to detect changes in body temperature and walking gait, as well as color and shape sensors to make sure the animals have enough pasture to graze on. The researchers have previously shown that farm robots can be used to monitor the health of crops, but SwagBot should be the first in the world to monitor the health of livestock.
- Anonymous (2019): $6.5 million investment for robotics start-up. https://www.sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2019/04/08/commercialisation-leads-to--6-5mil-investment.html
- Klein, A. (2016): Cattle-herding robot Swagbot makes debut on Australian farms. New Scientist https://www.newscientist.com/article/2097004-cattle-herding-robot-swagbot-makes-debut-on-australian-farms/
This innovation has an impact on:
- Socio-economic resilience: This innovation will increase the costs of equipment and materials
- Animal health and welfare: This innovation can contribute to herd's stock health and the early recognition of ill animals
- Production efficiency and meat quality: This innovation can help to save labor time