Soon, robots will milk cows in farms, say scientists. A team in Australia has developed a robotic rotary which it claims will automate most milking tasks, enabling the job to be performed as a background activity, without presence of a human operator.
The robot has been developed by DeLaval in collaboration with the University of Sydney and Australia's FutureDairy project.
Chairperson of FutureDairy, Shirley Harlock, said the robotic rotary was a major step towards addressing two of the key challenges facing the industry - the availability of labour and the lifestyle associated with dairying.
"This is one of the most exciting developments that has occurred in the 40 years I've been dairy farming. Although it won't suit all dairy farmers, the robotic rotary offers considerable benefits in terms of enabling more flexible working conditions and improved lifestyle," Harlock said.
While automatic milking systems have been widely adopted overseas, their application on Australian farms has been slower, mainly because the technology was developed for European herds which are smaller, and housed indoors for most of the year, say the scientists.