Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Robot Fence Shows Cows Where to Go

Robots not only take on unpleasant tasks but they can enhance and improve on human efforts.

Another farmer's helper robot: The Voyager robot fence from Lely.

The robot fence is an electrified fence that keeps your cows from running away, like any good fence. But this smart fence also occasionaly moves a few feet to give the cows fresh grass to graze. When they get to the end of the field, the robot fence can move the herd back to the beginning again to start all over. It gives the cows fresh ground and allows the field to recover.

According to the website:
"Frontal grazing by means of the Voyager is a method of intensive grazing management that allows livestock to continuously graze on fresh forage. Because the cows have a small strip of fresh pasture each time, the grass is well cropped and dosed, which not only makes the rumen function better, but also achieves a better proportional intake of protein and sugars."

Happy cows, better milk.

The fence consists of two 4-wheel skid-steer robots that keep the electrified line properly tensioned between them. Each robot is about 125 cm (4 feet) square, 215 cm (7 feet) tall and weighs 170 kg (375 lbs. They communicate through bluetooth so they can compensate for obstacles or unlevel ground.

The robots are powered by solar panels so they can operate autonomously. They are pre-programmed to optimize the forage. The farmer only needs to tell the robots how many square meters of new field per day and the robots calculate how far forward to move.


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