1 Nov 2013

Robot could be working farms soon

1:38 pm on 1 November 2013

AgResearch scientists have developed the early stages of a robot that may become part of the workforce on future farms.

The paddock robot or Agri-Rover, has the potential to carry out tasks that could range from checking stock to testing soil and pasture conditions.

Project leader soil scientist Andrew Manderson says the initial inspiration came from NASA's Mars rover.

"We were thinking if these guys can put one of these things on Mars why can't we put one in the paddock?

"At the time my specific interest was in measuring soil properties but as we developed it we saw a lot more opportunity as a practical farming tool."

The robot weighs 150 kgs and covers a ground area equivalent to a 4 wheel drive motorbike.

Dr Manderson says it's low profile and designed to go under electric fences and gates. It is powered by solar panels.

He says initially it will be used to take pasture measurements and farmers have also raised the possibility of mounting cameras on the robot to keep an eye on stock.