Robot Milking Machine

Requirement

Our customer required a bespoke machine vision system for locating and tracking cow teats on a robot milking machine running on a rotary milking parlour. Robot communication protocols were implemented to transmit the coordinates to the controller.

Development

Through live data capture and trials the team developed a machine vision algorithm using a Time-of-Flight camera to provide 3D images of the cow teats. This system was then tested and refined in collaboration with our client’s own robot developers. We used an EGD (Ethernet General Data) protocol to transmit the teat coordinates to a GE Fanuc PLC controlling the robot. The vision system had to withstand the constant movement, shocks and vibration from being mounted on a robot arm, together with the sharp knocks when from time to time a cow may kick the arm. The system also had to withstand a very wet and dirty environment, being covered with cow faeces and the chemicals use to clean the cow teats.

Results

Our customer now has a fully commissioned robotic milking system with a large installed base across North America and Europe.

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