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Ranch Rover Automates Livestock Feeding
The idea for a robotic machine to feed livestock came from Texas rancher River McTasney, who claims he’s been riding around in a feed truck his entire life. He went looking for a way to automate the monotonous chore and the result is the V1 Ranch Rover.
    After McTasney launched his prototype, it came to the attention of investor and consultant Hunter Allemand. The pair soon joined forces and became co-owners and founders of the specialized vehicle.
    “It’s essentially a pickup truck without the cab,” says Allemand. “It’s made completely from steel with a feeding bin and platform. It has all-wheel drive that uses a hydraulic propulsion system taking mechanical energy from a Honda gas motor and turning it into hydraulic wheel power. It’s great in mud and on hills. In our demos, we take it to different geographies and weather systems to show how robust it is.”
    Allemand says sensors and cameras guide the vehicle and the GPS tracker helps it arrive at the proper destination. Routes are preprogrammed as part of the company’s onboarding setup.
    “It’s smart enough for object avoidance too,” Allemand says. “If something like a small calf is in the route, it will wait for it to move, or try to drive around it. It would never run over it. It even has a horn along with a siren to call the cattle to feed.”
    The Ranch Rover comes equipped with a computer and phone app to run and schedule missions. While it’s currently focused on feeding livestock, they’re hoping to add machine learning and adapt the software to be intuitive enough to count and eventually identify sick animals. A companion drone to act as eyes for the Rover, helping to check fences and water sources and locate missing cattle, is also in the works.
    “We’re ready for customers now but as a special opportunity,” Allemand says. “We’re not trying to force the market but want to improve our quality and add reliable features. It’s pretty bulletproof, but not completely right now.”
    The company, Smooth Ag. Solutions, has decided to use a leasing option as a way for all ranchers to get in on a flat monthly payment and receive both service and maintenance. A purchase opportunity will also be available with the cost of the unit roughly mirroring the price of a new pickup truck.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Hunter Allemand, Smooth Ag. Solutions, Abilene, Texas (info@smoothag.com; www.smoothag.com).

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2022 - Volume #46, Issue #5