Robot Cow Moos and Gives Milk (May, 1933)
Robot Cow Moos and Gives Milk
Hidden Motors Give Exhibit for World’s Fair the Movements of a Living Animal
AN ELECTRIC cow that chews a cud, breathes, moves its head, winks its eyes, moos, and gives real milk will form one of the exhibits at the World’s Fair next summer.
This robot animal has just been completed at the New York City workshop of Messmore and Damon, specialists in creating mechanical beasts that range from prehistoric dinosaurs to modern puppies. It is an exact reproduction of a Holstein milk cow, the hide which covers the papier-mache body being that of the real animal. This particular Holstein was chosen as a model because it had a large black spot on one side. In the reproduction, this spot forms a door that can be removed if anything goes wrong with the mechanism inside.
How a single silent electric motor with-in the cow operates cams and levers to produce the various lifelike movements is illustrated by our artist’s drawing. The different-shaped cams vary the speed of the movements of the tail, jaws, head, ears, and eyes to make them more realistic. Forming the support of the head is a flat flexible bronze spring that bends from side to side as the head moves. The sides of the mechanical cow move in and out in regular rhythm to simulate breathing.
A glass milking machine milks the cow, real milk coming from a tank in the udder. Spectators see it drawn through transparent tubes into the glass container. But they do not see a small centrifugal pump, in the pedestal upon which the animal stands, which pumps it back again. The cow cost $3,000.