Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ROTABOT — Result In Brief

Project ID: 315407
Funded under: FP7-SME
Country: Ireland

The robotic milk shed

Ideal for large farms, a new dairy-milking robot can automatically locate a cow’s teat, place the suction cup and disinfects the udders. The robot was developed and successfully tested by an EU team.
The robotic milk shed
In response to economic pressures, European dairy farms are becoming larger and more commercial. Although robotic milking systems are already in use, they are slow and inefficient compared to human milkers and thus unsuitable for large enterprises.

The EU-funded ROTABOT (The development of a next generation robotic milking parlour) developed an automated milking system able to meet the challenges. The system incorporated automated teat cleaning, cluster attachment, and post-milking disinfection.

Work began with review of project technical requirements. The team also studied current milking systems, including optical targeting and robotics subsystems.

Next the consortium set about designing a suitable imaging system, intended to recognise and track cow teats. Researchers developed a list of candidate sensor technologies, and chose the cheapest and most reliable option. The sensor was intended to interface with a moveable robotic arm. ROTABOT also developed a camera able to recognise teats from 2D images, plus a 3D detection algorithm.

Engineers compared system requirements for motion against commercially available technologies, and selected the most suitable option. Thus the team achieved a design for a module able to attach cups to teats. The design was simulated, manufactured and tested.

Testing of the complete system including a communication protocol linking the vision and robotic systems. Hence staff selected and ordered a main controller. The consortium successfully demonstrated its working system in 2014.

Outcomes of the ROTABOT system included increased milking productivity, and food security for Europe. In addition, the results mean commercial and export opportunity for European businesses.

Related information


Dairy, robotic, ROTABOT, milking, imaging, productivity
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