Agriculture’s ‘Roomba’ is almost here

UMN team develops self-driving “cowbot” to mow farm pastures

College of Science and Engineering, August 10, 2020

It seems autonomous vehicles are everywhere these days. Self-driving cars, vacuums that clean of their own accord, Boston Dynamics’ robot dog—all created as a means to save humans time and energy.

This idea is what motivated a College of Science and Engineering team to create the “cowbot,” an autonomous lawn mower that cuts down weeds in cattle pastures.

“In terms of more relatable things, it’s like a Roomba for an agricultural farm,” said CSE researcher Parikshit Maini. “When the cattle graze these farms, they eat the soft, grassy plants and leave behind the weeds. Once they have grazed all of the field, we want to have the mower go in and mow all of the weeds.”

Maini is a postdoctoral researcher who works in computer science and engineering professor Volkan Isler’s Robotic Sensor Networks Lab. He is helping to lead the project, along with Ph.D. student Minghan Wei.

CSE researchers test the self-driving 'cowbot'