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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
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.


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