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Lightweight DBMS guides Linux-based cow feeding robot

Oct 29, 2014 — by Eric Brown 1,727 views

Ittia announced a design win for its lightweight embedded DB SQL database in Wasserbauer’s uClibc Linux based “Butler Gold” robot designed to feed cattle.

The Ittia DB SQL database and its antecedents, including .db*, have shipped in a wide variety of devices, including a circa 2005, Linux-based Oshkosh A3 HEMTT tactical truck. The lightweight, Linux- and Android-compatible embedded relational database has now found its way into barnyard life in its role within a Butler Gold cattle-feeding robot from Germany’s Wasserbauer GmbH. Linux has previously played a role in DeLaval’s Voluntary Milking System robot for cattle, but this is the first time we’ve seen it helping out on the other end.

Butler Gold
(click image to enlarge)

Wasserbauer’s Butler Gold is a self-propelled “forage slide,” if Google’s German translation is correct. The robot learns its path along the feed stalls from magnets embedded in the soil every two meters. The robot patrols the path 30 times a day, releasing and arranging the feed so it stays close to the cattle.

Two more views of the Butler Gold
(click images to enlarge)

The Butler Gold is touted for its screw conveyor system, which dispenses the food loosely to make it more attractive to the cattle. The 24V power supply runs on a pair of 105Ah gel batteries that are periodically charged on a charging station. A ruggedized, 10-inch tablet running Wasserbauer’s Cow Control System (COCO) software is available for controlling the device, and remote access from standard mobile devices is available upon request.

Embedded Linux stack


The robot runs embedded Linux equipped with the lightweight uClibc Linux C library along with the UBIFS file system, on an unstated ARM processor. uClibc is a small-footprint alternative to the standard GNU C library.

Ittia DB SQL is small enough to thrive in this restricted environment. The software organizes the sensor data collected from robots such as the Butler Gold, to help describe its local environment and enable it to maneuver autonomously, says Ittia. DB SQL is touted as providing a safe and efficient way to update and query local data on robots, making the data available to multiple concurrent tasks, while enabling easy distribution to other robots and control systems.

Butler Gold’s COCO-based tablet interface (upper left) and optional remote support on commercial tablets and smartphones (lower right)
(click image to enlarge)

Ittia DB SQL also plays a role in handling the web-based interface with the tablet. DB SQL supports popular scripting languages, such as Python. In addition, it enables remote applications with the help of database replication, letting the robot synchronize its database directly with Android and other mobile platforms, says Ittia.

Demo video

The short YouTube video below shows the Butler Gold robotic cow feeder in action. Although it’s in German, it’s worth watching.

Butler Gold demo video (auf Deutsch)

Further information

The Butler Gold robot appears to be available now. More information may be found at the Wasserbauer Butler Gold product page [Google translated].

A free evaluation copy of Ittia DB SQL is available at the Ittia DB Evaluation Center. The evaluation kit contains a complete embedded database library, optional server, support for both on-disk and in-memory data management, and SQL tools, says Ittia.

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