Boston Dynamics’ robot dog gets busy herding New Zealand sheep

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

Robots are becoming increasingly capable and versatile which means they are now able to accomplish an increasingly wide variety of tasks.

 

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We all know that humans jobs are under threat of being automated by increasingly intelligent and autonomous machines. But how about sheep dogs? Well, the robots are coming for their jobs now too it seems. Previously immune to the threat of techno-replacement, unless you want to count robot pets like Sony’s Aibo, sheepdogs in New Zealand are currently facing competition from the encroaching wave of robo-automation, courtesy of Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot that I’ve talked about before.

 

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A new video shows Spot carrying out a variety of assistive agricultural tasks, including inspecting crops and, yes, herding sheep – unlike sheep dogs it seems that Spot is somewhat of a multi-tasker, one that never stops, and never needs feeding or sleep.

 

See Spot in action
 

While it’s unlikely a real-life sheepdog has much to fear from Boston Dynamics’ bounding machine, it’s a pretty impressive demonstration for the canine-inspired robot, which finally went on sale last year after years of research and development in the lab.

In the video released last week Spot is shown navigating rugged environments to capture real-time data. This information can then be fed back to those who require it.

 

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A press release issued by Boston Dynamics and robot operations software platform Rocos describes how this could be useful in scenarios such as helping farmers to “access information such as more accurate and up-to-date yield estimates.”

“The age of autonomous robots is upon us,” Rocos CEO David Inggs said in a statement. “We’re working with organizations like Boston Dynamics to help accelerate the adoption of robotics. By connecting robots to the cloud, we can help them combine a cloud software layer with robotics to achieve physical automation at scale. Our customers are augmenting their human workforces to automate physical processes that are often dull, dirty, or dangerous.”

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