T-Moov, the latest-generation poultry robot designed with farmers
T-Moov, the latest-generation poultry robot designed with farmers
26 February 2024
Since the very start, Tibot has gathered opinions of farmers who rear breeding hens, laying hens or turkeys to be best able to cater for their needs in practice. After four years of marketing, the Spoutnic robot and a year of R&D, the latest addition to our range – T-Moov – was designed in partnership with a reference group of farmers and our network of over 200 users. What were their expectations? How did we take them into account? Tibot Project Manager Pierre Mabit tells the full story.
Stopping the poultry robot from jamming was a priority for farmers
Although Spoutnic’s compact design allowed it to circulate easily in barns, some farmers still reported cases in which the robot had jammed, citing a number of causes. This feedback enabled us to make several improvements.
A poultry robot for any building, any terrain, and all bird types
When our first robot was in use, it turned out that certain uneven environments made it difficult for it to move around, as Pierre explains:
‘In the US, the litter is very thick, with large holes and bumps, so the robot would sometimes end up grounded on its front. In France, it is the feed lines with legs that aren’t ideal for the robot to navigate. To address these problems encountered with Spoutnic, we did of course devise solutions using add-on accessories. With T-Moov, it’s different: we have capitalised on all this experience to create a universal robot from the outset that can be used on any farm worldwide.’
T-Moov does not need to be adapted, as its design gives it an unparalleled ability to negotiate obstacles. ‘This new robot is narrower and has a casing that covers its wheels. The casing allows it to detect obstacles in front, behind, above and to the sides. This rules out the risk of getting jammed in the legs of feed lines or perches,’ explains Pierre. ‘We can also raise the ground clearance, so it can go anywhere.’
Thanks to the feedback from our users, T-Moov passes underneath the feed lines and can negotiate the holes and bumps of an uneven litter, while adapting to all obstacles without getting jammed (hopper base, legs of feed chains or perches, dead birds, scrapers, etc.). So, it can be used on any farm, no matter what the constraints imposed by the building.
The end of flags getting caught in equipment
Tibot has always focused on offering a range of stimuli to get the birds moving. With Spoutnic, it was already possible to add flags to the robot, to create novelty and prevent habituation in the birds. In this respect several farmers reported situations in which flags got caught up in the equipment. This was an issue, as the poultry robot stopped circulating among the birds and was no longer doing its job while it was immobilised.
Here too, our R&D team solved the problem by devising a new magnetic attachment system. If the flags catch on something, the magnet releases, so the robot continues to move and reduce floor laying. In the old system, the flags had to be screwed in, now they just have to be clipped on, which Pierre says is a further improvement: ‘Some farmers didn’t like having to screw them in, even though it was a fairly quick job. Now flags can be changed in a matter of seconds: you just need to pull the kit and replace it. This makes it easier to stop the birds getting used to the robot.’
Making the poultry robot even easier to use
When Spoutnic was created, our team’s goal was to make the robot as easy to use as possible. Thanks to our users’ testimonials, however, they were able to go one step further.
An application created at the farmers’ request
Our users had expressed a wish for a smartphone application to control their robot. Their wish was our command: the app allows farmers to control the robot’s stimuli, speed and time programming, among other things, from their phones.
‘It was a legitimate request from farmers who don’t want to bother with a control box. The app is a practical tool that will evolve over time, no doubt with the addition of functions and more information useful to the farmer. For example, we could imagine integrating statistics on operating time and distance travelled by the robot. However, we don’t want to make the app essential. This is why the controls can still be accessed directly on the robot.’
Settings available directly on the poultry robot
On our first poultry robot, the settings were adjusted using a control box, which was not necessarily practical for the farmers. ‘The box sometimes stayed in the machine room with the tools,’ says Pierre. ‘If the farmer realised once in the middle of the birds that a stimulus needed to be changed (raise the sound level, change the light, etc.), they had to go and fetch the box and come back, or even put the change off until later.’
To solve this problem, the main settings can now be adjusted on the robot itself: color, light intensity, sound, speed or even programming jerks and turns of the robot. If the farmer walks past the robot and sees that a change needs to be made, this can be done immediately, with no loss of time or efficiency.
More ease of maintenance
Among the feedback from our users, all comments about the robustness of the poultry robot have been very positive. Therefore, our R&D team have retained all the successful features of Spoutnic, including the battery, motor, materials and most of the components. However, to meet the growing needs of farmers to save time on maintenance while ensuring compliance with biosafety regulations, the cleaning of the robot has been improved. ‘By undoing four screws, we can remove the casing of the T-Moov for cleaning,’ says Pierre. ‘The electronics housing box is protected by the sealed chassis housing.’
Even more effective on poultry behaviour
Lower floor-egg rates, mating stimulation, better fertility, reduction in diseases and feather pecking... our Spoutnic robot delivered proven results for farmers in terms of the birds’ behaviour. T-Moov takes the best of Spoutnic and adds new features for even better performance and safety.
New stimuli to avoid habituation in the birds
Like Spoutnic, T-Moov moves at random in the building to get the birds moving. To stop them getting used to the robot, T-Moov’s design adopts all of the existing stimuli (sound, light, speed, etc.), with a few additions.
‘A farmer suggested changing the color of the robot’s flag,’ says Pierre. ‘This inspired us and led us to devise various types of cover. It’s a bit like changing a wig, giving farmers a wider range of options for changing the look of the robot.’ To complete this range of stimuli, T-Moov is equipped with two laser pointers that scan the ground, designed by Pierre and the rest of the R&D team: ‘This new feature is not an idea from our users, but we know that they want a range of stimuli, for variation and to make sure the birds keep moving when the robot starts up. In this case, we had tested the laser points on the ground manually and found that they worked well: the birds follow the point or try to avoid it.’
The safety of the birds comes first
For the poultry robot to have significant results in terms of farm profitability, its design needs to incorporate animal welfare and, more broadly, the health and safety of the birds. Spoutnic was designed with no sharp edges or corners, to minimise the risk of injury. But a problem that occurred with one turkey farm led to an enhancement of the robot’s safety:
‘We had no cases of injured birds with Spoutnic, because the robot’s power was designed not to injure or crush a bird against a wall, for example. However, one turkey farmer did lose birds due to a power failure,’ says Pierre. ‘The lights went out in the building and the emergency generator didn’t work. The darkness caused panic and smothering. This probably would have happened without the robot but by continuing to circulate in the dark it possibly didn’t help matters.’
Fortunately, this accident remained a single isolated case and the circumstances were exceptional. For safety, this scenario has been taken into consideration with T-Moov. When the lights go out, the robot stops automatically.
As you can see, Tibot attaches great importance to feedback from farmers. They allow our team to offer a poultry robot that is both efficient and easy to use. Would you like to find out more about how our farmers use the poultry robot? Read the testimonial by Laëtitia Savary, who explains how the robot has changed the way she organises her daily routine.