The so-called SwagBot has recently had its first field test, herding horses and cows, and traveling through streams and other challenging terrain. SwagBot is intended to assist ranchers in Australia’s remote areas. People in these regions are typically hours away from neighbors or the nearest town, and are said to require extra assistance in farming efficiently.
Built "like a shoebox on four giant wheels," SwagBot can move about autonomously, tote objects and keep animals in line.
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A robot does not age or become ill in the same way that an animal does, and, with regular software and firmware updates, does not require training. A robot can also carry much heavier loads than the average canine. SwagBot can also interface with drones to create a fully-functioning farm network, sending information back to the farmer.
Researchers are currently working to improve the robot’s sensors, to be able to detect animal injuries or illness, and alert the farmer. SwagBot’s first field test is considered a success, and additional studies will be conducted over the next two years.