News / Science & Technology

Herd Mentality: Sheepdogs Provide Lessons in Crowd Control

Each sheep in the experiment was fitted with a small blue backpack with a Global Positioning Device (Photo by A. J. Morton).
Each sheep in the experiment was fitted with a small blue backpack with a Global Positioning Device (Photo by A. J. Morton).
Rosanne Skirble

Sheepdogs have something to teach people about crowd control.

A new study looks at what sheepdogs do naturally with their flocks to come up with a computer model that can recreate their behavior and apply it to situations well beyond the pasture.

A team of European researchers outfitted a sheepdog and 46 sheep with small GPS devices to chart their interaction. Co-author Andrew King of Swansea University in England says it provided really fine scale data on their movement and their trajectories over time.

The study revealed that the dog follows two basic rules, depending on the behavior of the sheep.

“Essentially the dog positions itself behind the flock if they are moving forward and it just stays there," King explained. "And if those white fluffy things that it is looking at become too sparse with gaps between them, then he will move towards the edge and start collecting those that are starting to move away from the rest of the flock.”

The scientists created a computer model to mimic that behavior.

“What emerges from the model is that the dog or the shepherd starts to weave behind that flock, which is exactly what we see in the real data,” King said.

Story continues below video:

 

Sheepdog Inspired Computer Model for Crowd Sourcingi
X
Andrew King, Daniel Strombom
August 26, 2014 11:44 PM
Sheepdogs have something to teach us about crowd control. A new study follows what sheepdogs do naturally with their flocks to come up with a computer model that can recreate their behavior and apply it to situations well beyond the pasture. This video animation, narrated by Andrew King, shows the real data from GPS devices affixed to the sheepdog and 46 sheep and a simulation model for the dog and same number of sheep.

This video animation, narrated by Andrew King, shows the real data from GPS devices affixed to the sheepdog and 46 sheep and a simulation model for the dog and same number of sheep.  

In the sheepdog-inspired model, a single shepherd could herd a flock of some 100 plus individuals, or more than twice the number of other models.

In the future, King says, the work could be applied to computer or robotic systems to control crowds, move livestock, keep animals out of sensitive areas or even clean up the environment.

The research is published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

You May Like

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid