Nikon develops AI system that predicts cow birth

Nikon has developed a live monitoring system that alerts farmers if a cow is about to give birth.

The system, called NiLIMo, uses artificial intelligence and image analysis technology to track cows through cameras installed on farms. According to Nikon, the system continuously monitors the cows for signs of calving and notifies farm workers if the animals are about to give birth through a dedicated app.

Cameras recognize the characteristic behavior of cows during calving, which includes increased movement and the start of the release of the amniotic sac that contains the calf.

“As the time of calving approaches, producers, especially small and medium-sized ones, face a significant burden, including the need for regular inspections, even at night,” the Japanese camera maker said.

The new system is aimed at freeing farm workers from the need to carry out these checks on pregnant cows in the weeks leading up to birth. It was developed as part of Nikon’s efforts to help address issues like the shortage of agricultural labor in Japan.

NiLIMo, which runs on Nvidia’s Jetson processor, will go on sale in Japan later this month after a trial period on four farms in the country’s southwestern Kumamoto Prefecture that started in February 2023.

"We deliver about 60 calves per year and had to check the mothers every few hours from around a month before they were due. This system has been a great help," Keita Higuchi, a livestock farmer who took part in the trial, told Kyodo News.

Nikon said it would take into account the farmers’ feedback and develop the technology further.

“We want to be able to also detect when a female cow is in heat and other behavioral patterns,” the company’s Kazuhiro Hirano said during a press conference. The system is estimated to cost 900,000 yen, or about $6,200, per year for farms with 100 cows.

Last year, Nikon ran an ad campaign in Peru highlighting the natural beauty of a world that it said was increasingly “obsessed” with the artificial.

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