By Susan Hayhurst
Remember Rosie the robot maid in the cartoon “The Jetsons”? She was always scooting around at warp speed to take care of George; Jane, his wife; daughter Judy; his son, Elroy; and Astro the dog.
Now picture a platoon of 18 less-humanized Rosies overseeing millions of chickens waiting to lay eggs. According to a Bloomberg News article, bit.ly/robotnannies, Charoen Pokphand Group raises about 3 million laying hens near Beijing, China, and deploys a flock of robots to convince customers its birds are healthy.
The sensor-filled “nanny robots” have their own perches, sitting atop wheeled bases three tiers of chicken coops high. They roll through a massive warehouse complex for 12 hours per day. The robots take six hours to cover one floor of the coop, then recharge for an hour before zipping through again.
Sensors are located in the nannies’ heads, midsections and knees. They check the fowls’ temperatures and movements. Should a bird be found feverish or on its last leg, human colleagues pluck the birds from their cages and often feed them to pools of very hungry crocodiles next door. The crocs are raised for their skin by CP Group.
While my two adult daughters could have called me Robocop Mom, I tried really hard not to be a helicopter mom. I did scoot around at what felt like warp speed to keep up with their schedules. I definitely could have used more daily recharging with a Starbucks salted caramel latte behind a door locked from the inside. Instead I opted for employing my mom’s soft touch, my hand as my temperature sensor rather than having one strapped to my midsection.
But feeding one of my wimpy-feeling daughters to crocodiles? Well, I’ve always gone for animal-print handbags.
Hayhurst writes from Terre Haute.