‘Spot’, a four-legged robot which can herd sheep and carry out other agricultural tasks, has gone on sale for commercial and industrial use costing £59,439.
The mechanical canine was designed and developed by Boston Dynamics, and was previously only available for short-term lease.
While ‘Spot’ was not originally intended as a sheepdog replacement by the company, a video released shows the robot moving sheep, encapsulating the growing trend within agriculture for farm automation in recent years, such as the Hands-Free Hectare project by Harper Adams and automated packing lines within horticulture.
Marc Raibert, chairman and founder of the company, said ‘Spot’s four-legged dog-like design allows it to navigate a range of terrains more easily than wheeled or tracked robots’, and its ‘advanced mobility, dexterity and intelligence can solve a broad range of real world problems.’
But sheep farmers remain unconvinced ‘Spot’ will be up to the job and will not replace working dogs any time soon.
Sheep farmer and author, James Rebanks, was quick to point out robots like Spot do not have the motor skills or intelligence needed, and would not be able to ‘discipline sheep with athleticism and teeth if needed.’
“We already have the perfect technology – a sheepdog”, he added.
Watch ’Spot’ moving a flock of sheep in the video below.
Boston Dynamics four-legged robot ‘Spot’ has been taught to herd sheep pic.twitter.com/I2Ey0ZvbCc— Reuters (@Reuters)