Engineering

“SwagBot” robot for Cowboys drives animal herds

Jobless sheep dogs? Could happen if SwagBot comes on the market. The Australian cowboy robot on four wheels drives together sheep and cattle. He however is not that cheap.

Where the hell is the herding dog, every night is driving us together? This idea could shoot the cattle and sheep on an Australian farm near Newcastle through the head. Because since June 30, SwagBot is in use – a cowboy robot on wheels that makes the animals legs.

The animals have respect for SwagBot. “You have obviously scared and run away. We expected exactly that”, says Salah Sukkarieh, Professor of Robotics at the Sydney University, the Mashable Australia magazine. “We harness that, to round up herds.”

Spider-like legs: SwagBot mastering rough terrain

Difficult terrain? For SwagBot no problem. The robot is visually reminiscent of a shoe box with four spider-like legs on wheels. The legs are independently movable, so that SwagBot mastering slopes and potholes, kraxselt of fallen tree trunks and driving through mud and water even with a trailer in tow.

SwagBot
Uneven terrain is not a problem for SwagBot. The legs of the robot are independently movable. It can drive even through mud and water. Photo: Australia Center for Field Robotics

And the quite fast. Accelerates the electric sheepdog with all-wheel drive on up to 20 km/h on a flat surface and makes steam so the animals properly. SwagBot will cost just under €20,000

“The tests were so far very successful. You have given trust us to enter into the next phase”, says Sukkarieh. And what is the next stage? Autonomous driving. “We’re looking for ways to increase the degree of autonomy.”

First, that would make SwagBot really attractive for Australian farms. Because they are often a one-man businesses, which need support, but can afford no employees. The price for the final retail version of the electric Hütehundes: nearly €20,000. It is a price which is interesting according to Sukkarieh for farmers.

Robot is supposed to become the mobile vet

The finished version to can even more than just animals drift together. “In the next few months we make us on the search algorithms for the monitoring” Sukkarieh said. SwagBot could become a mobile veterinarian. The robot to measure on the pastures as the body temperature of animals and monitor their pace. It might be even possible that SwagBot created a diagnosis for the farmer with the data.