Autonomous Aerial Robot Formations for Imaging Livestock for Health Monitoring

Grants and Contracts Details


The objective of this project is to develop and demonstrate a new co-robot system of autonomous unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) for monitoring the health of cattle herds, and thus improving livestock management practices. Every year, over 2.5 million U.S. cattle, valued at $1.5 billion, die from health problems. In contrast, only 220,000 cattle are lost annually to predators. Poor livestock health is the single biggest cause of cattle loss—accounting for over 60% of all losses. Improved health monitoring can reduce herd loss and thus, help to secure an essential source of food. Unlike poultry and swine, grazing beef cattle spend a significant amount of time outside of confinement, which makes centralized monitoring difficult. Although neckbands for cattle monitoring exist, these devices are expensive, cumbersome, and rarely used in practice—regardless of the size of the operation. We propose a new co-robot multi-UAV system equipped with vision-sensing capabilities that will conduct a three-dimensional image scan of a cow in pasture. This three-dimensional scan can then be used to estimate the cow’s volume and weight, which are key health indicators. All of these measurements will be taken using a group of cooperative UAVs that use non-invasive measurement methods. The main objective of this 1-year project is to develop the cooperative UAV control method and experimentally demonstrate this control method using a group of 3 autonomous rotorcraft in an indoor motion capture facility.
Effective start/end date1/1/195/31/20


  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration


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