This week we feature the thoughts of Tech4Agri team member Christopher Bascombe. #Didyouknow it’s his first blog post ever! He writes:
Farming has turned into an era of ‘swag’, and we’re not talking about stylish confidence. We’re talking about ROBOTS. – Christopher, Tech4Agri
Meet SwagBot, a remotely-controlled and revolutionary robot used to watch and shepherd animals as well as monitor farmers’ crops.
Conceived and created from the researchers at the University of Sydney and the Australia Centre for Field Robotics, the SwagBot is impending robotic innovation that was designed to plaster the issue of herding in remote areas of Australia.
With its shoebox appearance, it boasts several key feats and usefulness to the farm. These include obstacle traversal, plant and weed monitoring, transportation, aerial vehicle control and rugged terrain chassis.
But this invention now raises another question…
Is it truly innovative?
Certainly! Though in its test stage, the awaiting reality that this robot can create the luxury of a farmer sitting and remotely survey his/her farm is original and ground-breaking. This technology embodies the concept of drones and adds to the farm an advanced utility machine.
However, the applicability of the SwagBot robot especially on Caribbean farms may not be as beneficial to those in Australia. The majority of the Caribbean farms are small-scale. This can be a challenge for these farmers as the cost attached to installing such a robot and navigation system may be beyond the pockets of our farmers. The cost-factor delves into the heart of why Caribbean farming does not invest into these resources.
Additionally, Caribbean farming is still very much labor intensive.
The input of this robot would mean that even the shepherd dog would be ‘laid off’ from his job which screams the reality that there are consequences to technological innovation. However even with the likely high initial investment, its usefulness is clear in the region, solving our chronic labor issue.
Of course as our region does not host the conditions that facilitated the creation of the machine, there would need to be some adjustments.
The SwagBot has only undergone one field test thus far and still has many improvements before becoming iconic machinery in farming anywhere in the world. Even so it is still toughing the surface on breakthroughs in farm monitoring as it hopes to ensure livestock health.