The robots will be implemented in Cargill Protein’s beef plants in the US and Canada and operated by employees from a catwalk located above the pens.
Developed in collaboration with Jersey-based equipment company Flock Free, the robots took two years to finalise and have multiple applications, including waving automated arms, blowers and audio recordings to move cattle in a desired direction.
Testing was conducted at Cargill’s Wyalusing, Pennsylvania and Schuyler, Nebraska beef processing facilities to determine a design and operational attributes of the robot.
Cargill described the robotic cattle drivers as a “major innovation” in the handling and welfare of farm animals.
“The average bovine weighs almost three-quarters of a tonne, and our plant processes several thousand head of cattle daily,” said Sammy Renteria, general manager of the Cargill beef plant in Schuyler, Nebraka.
“This innovation provides a much safer workplace for our employees and allows them to develop new technology expertise as they manage and operate the robot.”
Cargill added that it believed the robot could be an asset across other livestock and poultry supply chains and was working towards making it available for use throughout the industry.
Here’s how the robotic driver works in a video produced by Cargill Protein.