Researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia have developed a robotic herder which they say does a better job than humans or dogs.
A four-wheeled device nicknamed Robotic Rover has successfully herded dairy cows in tests on the university’s dairy herd.
“Removing human judgment from trafficking speed will allow us to ensure that cows are only ever herded at a pace that is comfortable, even for the slowest cows,” a background document on the Robotic Rover says.
So far, Rover has been operated remotely by a human but researchers think it could be automated.
According to a BBC story, 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, Kendra Kerrisk, dairy researcher and associate professor, told the BBC.
Robotic Rover can be seen in action at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQXJbYDGvPg and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-75Xz-1JxmU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4Dndp-Esd8#t=58.
Based on comments on an Australian farm publication website, not all farmers are convinced about robotic superiority.
“Bet the diode warmer doesn’t even lick your hand when your best cow dies, your wife leaves, or the bank forecloses,” said one.