A semi-autonomous shearing handpiece that would capture data about what makes for a good shear will be put to the test with experienced shearers.
Australian Wool Innovation has been working with Scottish design company 4c Design to develop and construct the smart shearing handpiece.
The new sensing handpiece has the potential to make shearing available to less experienced operators, with the second phase of development almost complete.
4c Design director Will Mitchell said the company has been through a proof-of-concept phase and was now at the point of being able to demonstrate the technology on live sheep.
"There is only one in existence, so a lot of work still needs to be done to get feedback on the system before we can move the design on," he said.
"We have lined up a number of preliminary trials to gather the necessary feedback, but the design is still in its infancy, so it is too early to extend these trials.
"It is really important to run these initial trials with experienced shearers and learn from them what works and what doesn't, because this will inform the design decisions going forward."
Researchers have been working on creating a drive system, battery, motor, and motor controller which delivers the same power as overhead motors, while the handpiece is manufactured using a slimmer, smaller ergonomic design.
A comb tension sensor to help set the ideal force for the cutter to be tensioned has also been included.
Mr Mitchell said it was about making incremental improvements to the existing shearing handpiece design rather than radical change.
"To this end we are looking to reduce weight, incorporate data recording technologies and concentrate on building a more versatile mobile solution," he said.
"With an ability to capture data, we will be able to learn what makes a 'good shear' and inform the future generation of shearers when training.
"This will help improve the quality of training and potentially encourage more young people into the trade."
Mr Mitchell said once they had the feedback they needed, they could see what still needs to be done.
"This will require further investment to reach a more broad audience, so could be a few years away yet," he said.
"The next stage of the development is to build a more refined prototype which brings onboard the feedback from trials.
"This will allow the system to be more widely trialled and give AWI the opportunity to start logging the data we are outputting.
"From this point we would be able to produce a small batch of devices, which could be used in controlled environments through a selection of farms across Australia."
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