Cows Got 5G Before You

By Holly Brockwell on at

A herd of Friesian dairy cows in Shepton Mallet have been hooked up to 5G before any of us, the bovine swines.

Cisco Systems has hooked the herd up to a test network to see if 5G can revolutionise farming the way it's likely to revolutionise our super-important human tasks like gaming and watching films.

The cows have a whole suite of wearables to make use of their super-fast connection, although less in the vein of smartwatches and VR headsets and more in the vein of robotic milking collars.

When the cow needs milking, it goes to the milking station, where the gates recognise its collar and open automatically to let it in. The machine knows which cow it's milking and calibrates itself for those particular teats, which is a sentence we never knew we wanted to write.

Meanwhile, the cow gets a tasty treat for participating in the whole thing, not that it really had a choice. There are other 5G-enhanced gadgets that benefit the cows, though: brushes that spin when the cow comes over for a massage, curtains that open and close according to the weather, and a smart feeding system that delivers food from the ceiling like some kind of weird robotic deity.

Duncan Forbes, Project Manager at the Agri-EPI Centre where this is all taking place, comments:

"We are testing the ability of 5G to transmit the data from our sensors much quicker, and not via the farm’s PC and a slow broadband internet connection.

And the significance of that is it means that this sort of technology could be taken up [...] not just on farms but in rural communities right across the country."

Nick Chrissos from Cisco adds, slightly apocalyptically:

"We can connect every cow, we can connect every animal on this farm.

That’s what 5G can do for farming — really unleash the power that we have within this farm, everywhere around the UK and everywhere around the world."

Udderly bonkers. [Reuters]

Main image: Tobias Nordhausen via Flickr CC