Robots in a dairy farm

I saw this video from Bloomberg about the use of robots in dairy farms. It's always a challenge to work in an environment that constantly changes such as a farm. However, that didn't stop the company in the video to create 3 robots for tasks that used to be the domain of human workers:
  • Feed moving
  • Dung cleaning
  • Milking
Of the three tasks above, I consider milking the most challenging as it involves a moving creature with non-rigid body. Issues such as force control (to prevent cow discomfort or injuries) and dynamic visual servoing (to catch the moving udders) are some of the control issues that come to mind. Other engineering problems would be the robustness of the robots, battery life or power (for the mobile robots), and cost.

The robotic solutions doesn't come cheap (USD 200K per robot).

Maybe full automation is not really necessary? If the goal is to increase productivity, would providing farm workers with tools that could assist in executing his job at high speed be more cost-effective?


The irony of social media -- as pondered by Simon & Garfunkel 50 years earlier

A video is going around social media titled, "Look Up". The video essay speaks of how social media (mobile phone?) actually makes people unsocial. With eyes glued to mobile phones, opportunities to connect to one another just pass us by. It's a call to pry ourselves away from our phones, hence, the title.

Half a century ago in 1964 the duo Simon and Garfunkel, through their song The Sound of Silence also warned of technology that could cause isolation -- television.

I learned about the real meaning of this song in a poetry class in university,  32 years after the song was released. I couldn't relate to the song because I grew up in a generation when watching television is a norm (even necessary for some as it is one of the cheapest forms of entertainment). It felt like what the singing duo warned about didn't really take place or maybe it did, but a fish wouldn't really know what water is.

Humans in general would adapt to any given situation. Whether it's for the worse or the better is a matter left to future generations to find out. As for mobile phones, I think we just have to remember, "too much of something is bad enough".