This Robot Cow-Herder Could Make Cowboys Extinct

Jul 18, 2016 at 1:41 PM ET

What the flock, people: Robots are stealing jobs from shepherds and sheepdogs now?

Australians have always been keen to bring technology to the outback, whether it’s using quads for herding, or even helicopters. But the Australian Center for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney has taken a step into the future of livestock—it has just tested its latest farming robot: SwagBot.

Fitted with a camera and all-wheel drive but currently lacking the plaid-shirt-and-brooding-love-for-his-fellow-herder aesthetic that earned Brokeback Mountain so many awards. But hey, the researches bill this as a “Motion platform for cattle stations”, not an emotion platform, so you can’t expect too much. Whatever it’s wearing, this robot could soon be chasing sheepdogs and humans off the range and herding some cattle near you.

SwagBot can herd visibly terrified cows through difficult terrain. It can travel over obstacles and through shallow water. SwagBot will eventually do a lot more than just herding, say the scientists. Researchers hope that SwagBot will one day be able to LOVE. Just kidding, but it will be able to monitor the health of cattle as well as plants.

The future of farming just got a little less farmer-dependent, folks.