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Robotics technology has found a place on NZ farms

Bruce MacDonald, a robotics specialist at Auckland University, who's an Associate Professor in electrical and computer engineering, said much of the focus so far has been on automation in the dairy shed, but that's growing both within and outside the dairy industry.

Professor MacDonald also said "Like in-line milk testing for example, and putting the cups on the cow automatically."

"There are even some robotic milking machines that automate the whole process, and certainly a mission to increase the amount of measurement that's being done on farms, using sensors and then to automate some of the operations on farms to make them more efficient and help the farmer out, by doing repetitive tasks."

Professor MacDonald said there was a lot of research going on in this field as well, but the farming environment did pose challenges for robotic technology.

"It's a real challenge to take a robot and make it operate on its own in a farm environment, where there's mud and rocks and fences and rain and snow and all that kind of stuff, so there are quite few basic challenges and people are working on them, said Professor MacDonald.

A science impact leader at AgResearch, Dr Robyn Dynes, said an important part of the technology adoption process was understanding what motivated farmers to take it up.

"What we have to understand is what the farmers believe the issues are, where the pressure points are for that farmer and therefore they're motivated to look for solutions and then, how are our technologies going to deliver those solutions? Said Dr Dynes.

"And then when we move into robotics and automation where we're collecting a lot of data, it's one thing to collect that data, but that is only meaningful if it's going to improve decision making."

Source: RadioNZ

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