Watch this robotic sheepdog manage a flock

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/05/21/watch-this-robotic-sheepdog-ma.html

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I somehow don’t think this is going to solve the shortage of east european fruit pickers in the UK post brexit.

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Why would anyone want to replace Border Collies. They are the very best of us.

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That thing could probably herd me around, too. It’s freakin’ terrifying. Dogs4Ever!

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Robot overlords something something!

I don’t know why people automatically leap to the most unlikely outcomes. Maybe there just hasn’t been enough utopian sci fi compared to dystopian? This is a brilliant application of a brilliant device.

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Just the thing for guarding the electric sheep.

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Further, a working collie out on the hills with a shepherd, may cover 40 miles of ground a day.

How long do the robot’s batteries last?

Also, I want to see a robot sheep herder (NOT gonna call it a sheepdog!) respond to a hill farmer’s whistled instructions. That would be a tad more impressive. I’m not sure you can pre-program a robot to do a specific task with a herd, and have it adapt to all unforeseen circumstances. A good sheepdog handler and a dog or two can manage just about anything the sheep decide to do.

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In your android dreams :wink:

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Boston Dynamics has a bit of a problem of developing a cool solution and then flailing around looking for a problem that needs it.

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Hello, customer service? All my sheep were just herded off a cliff.

“Please remain on the line. Your call is very important to us. Your current wait time is… 5 hours.”

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Solve the worker shortage problem in a world with an ever growing population?

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Agreed. I love seeing advancements and uses of robotics tech like this, and it’s always a shame to see people spamming pop culture references to Terminator, Black Mirror, and so forth whenever a new video featuring a robot slightly more advanced than a simple industrial arm crosses there screen.

The video also showed other uses for the robot besides sheep herding. Using LIDAR equipment or other sensors on the robot to grab data about the farmland, for example. I’m going into GIS and the data-gathering potential for robots like SpotMini and others would be a huge boon to companies that need routinely-updated data for projects.

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The “problem” this is solving is labor costs.

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What I really need is a droid that understands the binary language of moisture vaporators.

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It’s all fun until someone adds a line to the startup:

dtoverlay=wolf
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:musical_note: I get by, with a little help from my friends :musical_note:

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I don’t know, I feel like with every year that goes by more dystopian science fiction slides over the line into utopian.

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image

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Yeah, and all of it is perpetrated by humans. That’s kind of what irritates me about these takes. There is enough awful stuff happening that we have direct control over as a species and we take little if no action to correct. Then, when something really cool and potentially hopeful involving robots comes along we’re all like “we need to take action and avoid the robopocalypse!!!” People pay money to let Google, Amazon and Apple directly spy on them just so they don’t have to hit the skip button on Spotify, but an amazing device that has myriad applications that benefit mankind (search and rescue, agriculture, elder care) brings out the pitchforks. I’m being hyperbolic, obviously, but I wish this inspired hopeful discussion instead of silly handwringing.

Edit to clarify; obviously, if there were to be a robot takeover, it would be a direct consequence of humankind’s actions, but the scenario that usually comes up is a singularity event resulting in cognizance and free will on the part of the robots. Climate change is 100% ours.

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Next stop, the Twilight Zone! Well, we’ve arrived!
UFOs!
Giant Murder Hornets!
Mannequins!
Nazis!
Paranoia!
Robots!
Dictators!
Masks!
Empty streets! Where is everybody??
Hucksters / snake oil salesmen! They’re amuck!
Willoughby, Ohio! Oh, it’s real, and it’s been here all along!
Space Forces!
And time enough at last to read a few books, like…
… oh, maybe Cookbooks!

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