Autonomous robots are already being used to inspect crops, determine yields, dig up weeds, monitor soil and ground cover, and even herd livestock.
The newest prototype "sheepdog" robots are modeled on the "Shrimp" bot that you can seen above, and are being designed to patrol massive Australian sheep and cattle ranches where animals are monitored very infrequently – perhaps only once or twice a year. In these situations stock can fall ill, get hung up, or go lame without anyone knowing.
The new generation of "farmbots" will have Artificial Intelligence capabilities so they can not only herd livestock, but also to do health checks using using thermal and vision sensors that detect changes in body temperature and walking gait.
A two-year trial of the new robots is in the works thanks the work of the Australian Centre for Field Robotics. The impetus for the all the investment in research? High wages, a vast landscape, and a limited pool of farmhands.