Guild of Shepherds & Collies

Could the Job of a Sheepdog Be Replaced by Robots?

Scientists believe they have learned the secrets of herding that have led sheepdogs to successfully herd animals. These secrets, they believe, are so simple that the researchers are confident they can replace sheepdogs with robots.

The scientists, who are with Swansea University in Wales, found that the two factors which lead sheepdogs to successfully herd animals are:

1.       The ability to close gaps between sheep

2.       Once the gaps have been closed, the sheep will continue to be pushed forward

David Kennard, who enlists a team of collies to help him herd, thinks the idea of replacing sheepdogs with robots is ludicrous.

Kennard thinks that the study neglects to account for a much wider breadth of abilities that the sheepdogs use while herding. “The assets of a sheepdog are numerous; speed, agility, biddability, stamina and vision, plus a hundred other traits that have been honed by hundreds of years of breeding,” he told Western Morning News. “The suggestion that they could be replaced by a mathematical formula and GPS, would be like trying to replace the space shuttle with a bake bean tin and a sparkler.”

To learn more about the research study, visit the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

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