Today’s article on the BBC News website “Two simple rules explain sheepdog behaviour” stopped and made us think. Could you imagine a robot doing the job of you or one of your key team members? Just think – no induction needed, no expensive courses, in at the deep end straight away without any form of probationary period. Marvellous. Or is it?
In shepherding, could we get a robot to do the job of the dog? No puppy training would be needed, no feeding, no need to wait 6 months to see if the dog will work with the sheep and anyone would be able to give it commands. No more ‘one man and his dog’.
OK, so the sheep (and the shepherd) would need to get used to the new machine, just as when the quad bike was first introduced to the farming world. It travels well over long distances and muddy, uneven terrain. When it comes to the close work, however, being able to turn really quickly, jump fences and hold the sheep (to keep them in one place) this is when the dog really comes into its own.
As shepherds we need to empower the dog to do the right thing when seeing the sheep from its angle – the shepherd gives the big picture and the dog does the detail. If there is a way of programming the robot to make that judgement then the driverless quad bike could be the way to go. Now what’s Sergey Brin’s email address?