Karel van den Berg

Karel van der Berg from Lely talked about the development of the Lely Astronaut – the worlds first cow milking robot. The development of what would later be called ‘the most important invention of the 20th century for dairy farmers’ started in 1985. It was clear right from the start that the milking robot would have to be installed amongst the cows.


Karel van den Berg and René Fransen, both of them involved right from the start of the development, remember the prerequisites very well: “The cows need to visit the robot of their own accord and there should be as few barriers as possible.” To ensure a highly flexible connection between the teat cups and the ‘solid world’ the designers opted for a cord. Cornelis van der Lely, one of the founders of the Lely Group, raised the idea to call the milking robot ‘Astronaut’. This is also because the teat cups are connected − through an umbilical cord, as it were, with the ‘mother ship’, i.e. the milking robot proper.