it absolutely will not stop until it's clamped a nipple

Teat-seeking robot to help cows milk themselves

Davies' company IceRobotics has just received a $157,000 grant from Britain's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts to develop its rubbery manipulator - the 'continuum activator' - into a flexible, teat-seeking robotic arm. [...] It is made of a rubbery polymer, and fluid is pumped at varying pressures down three central chambers to make it extend, contract or bend at any angle. Finger-like manipulators at the arm's end add dexterity - stiff-armed robots "can have trouble catching all the angles teats can take", says Davies.

Using an infrared camera, the arm will zero in on one of a cow's warm teats and use it to locate the others. It will then place conventional suction-powered milking cups over each of them. [...]

Davies says that the strength of his device is its softness. "I build robots that can shake hands with people without the risk of slicing their head off," he says.

But its not just robotics that's preventing every dairy farm from going automatic, notes Meijering - it's also the cows. Some animals happily visit existing robotic milkers day and night. But in every herd there are a stubborn few that spurn automation, prefering the human touch. "Several cows have to be fetched a couple of times a day," says Meijering, which makes the cost of robotic milking of large herds difficult to justify for the time being.

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4 Responses:

  1. vincel says:

    Davies' company IceRobotics has just received a $157,000 grant from Britain's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts to develop its rubbery manipulator - the 'continuum activator' [...]

    Sounds like it could also open portals, too.

  2. nrr says:

    So, these things are pretty much the Nazgûl of cow teats? ;)

    "They will never stop hunting you."

  3. thesliver says:

    If circle jerking were an English cultural pursuit I could see there being alternate uses for this. Though as it was said on Red Nose night that a bunch in a pub in Cornwall were planning on Wanking for Comic Relief perhaps there is an alternative market for it after all.

  4. ciphergoth says:

    No "I for one welcome our new nipple-obsessed robot masters"?