Scottish company IceRobotics will develop a new generation of dairy farm robots, working in a way that is similar to an elephants trunk, that can milk cows without the presence of the farmer, thanks to an Invention & Innovation award of £98,000 from NESTA (the National Endowment for Science, Technology & the Arts), the organisation that invests in UK creativity and innovation.
While studying for his PhD, Dr Bruce Davies, a senior lecturer at Heriot-Watt University, came up with the idea for a new breed of robots capable of biomimetic locomotion: machines that move using the same patterns that are found in nature. To respond to opportunities to exploit his invention in dairy automation, Bruce set up Edinburgh-based IceRobotics with Robert Boyce who is trained in business administration and has direct experience in technology enterprise development and Dr Andrew Peacock, who has a background in artificial intelligence and sensor system technologies.
New research is showing that better milk yields can be obtained from cows if they can be milked more regularly at times of their own choosing, with one of the best times being between 11pm and 3am just before the cow settles down to sleep. This is consistent with the milking patterns of a calf but impractical in terms of traditional dairy farming based on herding cows to be milked twice a day. The alternative is the proposed Biomimetic robotic milking system technology of IceRobotics, operating 24 hours a day. Technology of this kind could result in a 10% to 20% increase in milk yield in over 200,000 medium sized diary farms across the Europe and offer improved hygiene and health for the herd. The technology also has the potential to be applied to milking goats and sheep.
Joseph Meaney | alfa
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