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This Cattle-Herding Robot Is Here to Crush Your Cowboy Dreams

It’s the 25th anniversary of City Slickers, which means you’ve spent a quarter of a century dreaming of driving cattle through breathtaking landscapes, living a life of open air adventure, and bonding with a murdery-eyed Jack Palance. SwagBot is here to kill those dreams.

Built by the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics, the robot can tow a heavy trailer, traverse rugged terrain, and make horses and cows (and presumably sheep) go where it wants them to. You can put steep hills, busted logs and swamps in its path without a problem, which makes it ideal for remote farming areas and large ranches where animals are rarely monitored. It also works in tandem with a drone to keep an eye on livestock (or maybe to drop M&Ms on ferrets).

Look at this thing go.

Now that it’s passed its first major test, lead developer Salah Sukkarieh tells New Scientist the next step is to outfit SwagBot with varying sensors to spot changes in body temperature and movement, in hopes that it will become the world’s first robot to check up on the health of grazing livestock. “Over the next few months, we’ll be looking at what algorithms we need to put together to allow the animal monitoring,” he says. SwagBot will also get color sensors to herd animals toward areas suitable for grazing.

Scientists have already developed robots to aid with crop harvesting and dairy farming, but SwagBot officially puts “Cowboy” on the list of jobs that automatons are looking to take over.

If they give it a bandana, Hank the Cowdog better watch out.

Featured Image: Australian Centre for Field Robotics/YouTube

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