From a jukebox for chickens to a self-propelled wheelbarrow that follows you around. As a country boy, Bastiaan Vroegindeweij has an unerring instinct for inventions that can make the life of farmers or farm animals – and preferably both – more pleasant. Devising and making them is the core business of his company, Livestock Robotics. ‘Really, we are just inventors who are bridging the gap between the lab and the barn,’ is how he sums it up.
It all goes back to Vroegindeweij’s PhD research at the Farm Technology Group, when he succeeded in developing an egg retrieval robot that detects and collects eggs fully automatically in cage-free layer barns – without breaking eggs or running over the hens. Nobody doubted the usefulness of this PoultryBot, but the long payback period kept investors from backing it.
The company has now broadened its scope to almost anything at the cutting edge of robotics, vision and agriculture. ‘As long as we get to do fun stuff and can earn a decent living,’ says the founder. This autumn, Livestock Robotics will move from Plus Ultra II to the town where Vroegindeweij lives.
Really, we are inventors who are bridging the gap between the lab and the barn
‘We are short of space here,’ he explains. A glimpse of the office confirms that: it is stuffed from floor to ceiling with boxes of screws, sensors, wiring and other inventor paraphernalia. But there is always room for new ideas. ‘So if there are any more people at Wageningen that we can help with solving a problem…?’
There are about 100 companies on campus. We introduce them to you in Resource. This time: Livestock Robotics.