Sheepdogs could lose their jobs to robots after scientists learned the secret of their herding ability.
Rounding up sheep successfully is a simple process involving just two basic mathematical rules, a study found.
One causes a sheepdog to close any gaps it sees between dispersing sheep. The other results in sheep being driven forward once the gaps have sufficiently closed.
A computer simulation showed that obeying these two rules alone allowed a single shepherd – or sheepdog – to control a flock of more than 100 animals.
The discovery has implications for human crowd control as well as the development of robots that can gather and herd livestock, the scientists said. […]
To conduct the study, the researchers fitted a flock of sheep and a sheepdog with backpacks containing highly accurate GPS satnavs.
Movement-tracking data from the devices was programmed into computer simulations to develop the mathematical shepherding model.
Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, the researchers concluded: “Our approach should support efficient designs for herding autonomous, interacting agents in a variety of contexts.
"Obvious cases are robot-assisted herding of livestock, and keeping animals away from sensitive areas, but applications range from control of flocking robots, cleaning up of environments and human crowd control."”—Sheepdogs could be replaced by robots after scientists crack simple process | UK news | theguardian.com (via new-aesthetic)