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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid