AI and Robotics in Agriculture: Robotic Pill Offers Health Benefits for Cows

AI and Robotics in Agriculture: Robotic Pill Offers Health Benefits for CowsA tiny AI robotic pill may soon help farmers improve their cows’ milk production. If cows are under stress due to illness or anxiety, milk production is often affected. It’s difficult for a farmer to stay in touch with the health status of every cow in the herd, but these small, six-legged pill robots built from polymers could meet the challenge.

How Robotic Pills with AI Can Help Cows

The ways cows eat vary from one to the other. They are also susceptible to illness in different ways. Pills containing robotics and AI could give farmers the data to care for each cow according to their specific needs. Improving health and productivity can even reduce methane. The pill can also optimize a cow’s use of land and water from the inside out.

The small robotic pills are first ingested by the cows. Unlike a human who would pass such a pill, solids in a cow’s digestive system are regurgitated and chewed again. The robots operate on very low power, allowing them to keep working for extended periods of time; however, external sensing, powering, and recharging is required.

The robots are mobile and can move between the cow’s four stomach chambers. Researchers made the pill robotic because the cow’s stomach chamber is complex, so the pill often ends up in the wrong place without the capability of moving on its own. AI enables the robotics to move the device to where it needs to go, and then detect and report what’s going on in the stomach chamber.

Farmers Need Access to the Data

To help make the robotic pill viable for commercial use, reporting the data to farmers is a key area for development. Farmers must be able to retrieve data for entire herds at once. The pill could send data to a collar on the cow, which is forwarded to a cellular or Wi-Fi network. Location data is also key so that farmers can isolate cows that are ill and provide treatment.

Cows may also see increased health benefits as farmers would not have to give antibiotics to animals that don’t need them. Data from the pills could ensure that individual dairy cows are eating properly, and also if they need added vitamins, minerals, and other supplements in their diets.

In the future, the AI could be altered to use these small robots to improve human surgeries and general well-being.

Photo Credit: Purdue University photo/Rebecca Wilcox