Prototype feedlot autonomous mobile robot for bunk calling
Did you know the 'BunkBot' can automatically estimate the amount of feed remaining in cattle feed bunks at a rate of 10 km/hr?
|Project start date:||15 October 2018|
|Project end date:||31 October 2019|
|Publication date:||10 October 2019|
|Livestock species:||Grainfed cattle|
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A previous MLA project (B.FLT.7009) developed a 'Bunk Scanner' prototype, which can be used to determine feed remaining in cattle feed bunks with greater precision and accuracy than human operators.
The current project investigated the development of a prototype for a safe, automated vehicle to serve as a platform that can move a new model of the Bunk Scanner around feedlots.
An off-the-shelf, robotic ground vehicle was used to make the 'BunkBot' prototype, which has been upgraded with additional critical functionalities, including safety features and modified global and local navigation tools.
The project aimed to develop a prototype of an automated feedlot mobile robot to complement the Bunk Scanner.
- Success of the prototype was measured by the precision, accuracy and speed of the prototype to predict feed remaining for finisher diets, which was then compared to the same results gathered from humans doing the same work.
- The automated BunkBot prototype provided highly repeatable, precise and accurate predictions of the amount of feed remaining in feedlot bunks (troughs).
- On average, the BunkBot had an error of 6.85kg in predicting the amount of remaining feed, which was far better than the human workers, who had a prediction error of 20.86kg. This means that the 'BunkBot' can calculate the feed intake of cattle in Australian feedlots more accurately than feedlot workers.
Benefits to industry
Short-term benefits of using BunkBot include reduced human error with bunk calling. Longer-term benefits may include an increased accuracy and frequency of objective data collection with the mobile robot, which can possibly lead to increased carcase gains.
The BunkBot and Bunk Scanner systems were demonstrated at the 2019 Australian Lot Feeders' Association (ALFA) SmartBeef Conference in Dalby, Queensland. Both systems are commercially available now through Manabotix Pty Ltd.
An industry BunkBot demonstration site is currently being planned for 2020 at an Australian feedlot to enable lot feeders and interested industry stakeholders to view the system under commercial operating conditions.
- Manabotix Pty Ltd commercial products
MLA final reports
- Feedlot adoption - Bunk Scanner Field Trials, MLA final report, 12 October 2018.
- Prototype development for sensor technologies to automate feedlot bunk management, MLA final report, 01 March 2018.
MLA news articles
- BunkBot testing underway, MLA Quarterly Feed news article, 17 September 2019.
- See BunkBot in action, MLA news article, 11 June 2019.
External news articles
- Ag-tech: Automated bunk scanning a step closer for feedlots, Beef Central article, 6 March 2018.
- Automated feed bunk scanner, MLA YouTube video.
|Project manager:||Joseph McMeniman|
|Primary researcher:||Manabotix Pty Ltd|