Belair robot takes hassle out of feeding

Of all the automated feeding systems on show at SIMA, Belair’s Aviso is the most cunning.

Instead of proposing complex systems and lots of infrastructure, the French company has simply taken a standard electrically-powered forklift truck as the basis of its system.

The lead-acid batteries on this machine can power the truck for a day, says the company, but to avoid the inevitable downtime while they are recharged the firm has designed a system that – essentially – allows the spent battery to be ejected into a separate charging unit while a full one is slotted back in.

No human driver is required, says the company. Instead GPS is used out of doors to guide the machine while, indoors, metal strips attached to the floor perform the same function.

The key part of the system is Belair’s natty silage cutter/mixer/dispenser unit. It allows the machine to head off to the silage clamp, cut enough feed to fill the 2.5cu m (roughly 800kg) hopper, head back to the cows and dispense the feed from a cross elevator.

Testing of the system has been going on for some time and the machine is expected to go on sale at the end of the year. Cost is about £160,000.