It has been an interesting journey for the past 30 years since Lely invented and successfully introduced automatic milking!
Before you dive into the brief history of the Astronaut, some figures where Lely is now:
- Close to 50, 0000 Astronauts sold in 50 countries across the world
- Milking more than 2 million dairy cows everyday
- Performing around 6 million milking's per day
- In 5 years after the introduction of the A5, the A5 will match the A4 install base in half the time it took for the A4
In June 1992, the first Lely Astronaut was installed on a commercial farm. This was the second prototype by Lely. In 1993 Lely surprised the world by going public with
the Lely Astronaut, the first Automated Milking system that had already milked cows on its own for at least 6 months. A true revolution for dairy farming.
In 1997 new innovations lead to a new version of the Lely Astronaut A2. The familiar frame becomes available in galvanized or stainless steel and the cleaning system is updated. In the meantime, there are already 100 robots working in barns all over the world.
In 1999, the Milk Quality Control on the A2 is introduced. First, the unit was mounted near the milk jar and with future arm development, the MQC moved into the robotic arm closer to the cow.
In 2004, 12 years after the A2 introduction, there are more than 2,000 robots milking daily and Lely introduces the 3rd generation of the A2, the Lely Astronaut A2 Evolution to the market. With each generation, the milking robot becomes better and more intuitive resulting in improved cow health and wellness. To support this, the Lely Astronaut A2 Evolution comes with static teat detection system and a new vacuum system.
In 2005, Lely releases the Lely Astronaut A3. Together with T4C management, the system provides real-time data on the health
and productivity of the herd and individual cows. The new model comes with an updated robotic arm and the new MQC moves into the arm.
2009 is the year of the Lely Astronaut A3 Next. A model between the A3 and A4 generation milking robots, several parts are worked on and overhauled. A lot of work went into creating a new design with an improved feed box. With these innovations the install base of Lely robots grows over 9,000 Astronauts by 2010.
At the end of 2010, the Lely Astronaut A4 comes onto the market. The most natural way to milk: more freedom, more control and more milk. The revolutionary iFlow concept further lowers the threshold for cows to voluntarily be milked. The A4 has a modular design: a central unit contains a vacuum and cleaning system for a maximum of 2 milking units. In addition, there are the 3D camera and electronic cleaning brushes. In 2020, the last A4 was produced and sold. At that time more than 35,0000 Astronauts are on farms in more than 42 countries.
2018, introducing the new milestone in milking: Lely Astronaut A5. The combination of automatic milking principles, our focus on reliability, ease of use and cost efficiency has resulted in the most cow and farmer friendly milking system. Which in 2022 is tested by DLG and rewarded being the most energy efficient milking robot ever tested.
This was 30 years of Lely Astronaut! Looking forward, we have a bright future to come.