Howdy, pardner. Sit on back and relax a bit, while we take you for a tour of our ranch. A ranch where we round up them critters with drones.
Normally, it takes dogs or people on horseback to herd animals. That’s the way it’s been done, well, for a very long time. But a couple of herders in Israel started playing around with drones. And then the play became more serious, as they realized the cows responded to the drones (camels, too). And so they began working on a business project. Could drones be used to do the herding?
And the answer? Why yes, yes they could be.
Eyes in the sky
It started with a couple of farmers in Israel. Using a DJI Mavic Enterprise 2, they began by flying to keep an eye on their livestock. Then they started wondering: Could a drone be used to take care of this task on its own and free up the farmers? Maybe. After some special software was developed using AI, they found the Mavic could identify cattle on the ground. They threw in some more special sauce, and their company BeeFree Agro was on its way to creating an autonomous system that could take off and herd cattle on its own. They call their software system “Joe” — and it’s known as “your personal herding assistant.”
What does it look like in action? We’ll let the farmer tell that story:
We checked out the BeeFree website and found there was a pretty interesting backstory. Here’s part of it:
The story of BeeFree Agro begins in a cattle ranch in the Galilee Heights. Like all farmers, we encountered economic and social changes that forced us to adapt. Initially using drones for visual surveillance, we quickly discovered that animals react to them. That’s how JOE was born. JOE is a technological system that moves up to 1000 heads of cattle over vast expanses of land without human intervention, using a single drone. Named after our favorite herding dog, JOE displays all the characteristics of a good herding pal: intelligent, loyal, follows orders, autonomous, fast and easy to operate. JOE revolutionized our lives, significantly reducing our operations costs and organizational and personal stress levels. Join us in pursuit of faster, simpler and more cost effective ranching.
The old way
The folks at BeeFree Agro say the drone has helped reduce costs and means the farmers have more time to spend with families. But let’s not forget about the old tried and true method that also reduces manned labor: using shepherding dogs.
In this case, we have a drone’s eye view of that, as hundreds of sheep are quickly rounded up by dogs:
And when the day is done, and it’s time to count sheep, that’s something a drone can help with, too. Unless, of course, you’re simply trying to go to sleep. It can’t help you there.
We look forward to hearing more from BeeFree Agro as the company rolls out its platform.