SwagBot all-terrain robot is meant for rural life

Uncle Owen in Star Wars had a bunch of robots that helped him mind the moisture farm and it looks like the future here on Earth might have robots to help farmers as well. That is if Professor Salah Sukkarieh from Sydney University has anything to say about it. Sukkarieh is the project lead for agriculture robotics at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) currently studying how automated technology could assist farmers and ranchers.

The latest robot that the ACFR is testing is called the SwagBot and it is able to do things like herd animals and monitor them for ranchers. SwagBot is meant to be cheap but powerful and able to work in large and rugged areas. Sukkarieh said, "Because of the type of terrain ... it needed to have enough power and articulation capability to clamber over logs and ditches."

SwagBot is battery operated and is able to reach a top speed of about 12mph on smooth terrain and uses all-wheel drive for traction. Cows are dubious of anything not offering food by nature, so Sukkarieh says that they ran away from the robot as expected, something useful when herding animals.

"They (cows) were obviously scared and ran away. It's what we expected," Sukkarieh said. "We use it to our advantage in herding animals, or we figure out how to monitor from a distance."

The goal is to create a robot that is similar in price to an all-terrain buggy commonly used on farms and ranches. That would indicate a price of somewhere in the $20,000 range. ACFR is also working on other robots with one called Ladybird that is capable of weeding and harvesting. Another is the J3 Cub UAV used for weed detection. Sukkarieh says that farmers are interested in the robots and are waiting to see what capabilities are added in the future.

SOURCE: Mashable