On the hillside in New Zealand, a humming buzz and an electronic bark with a pitch altering tone, echoes from the distance. Flocks of sheep are heading to new pastures with the emergence of new sheep herding technological drones. The drone stops and hovers, as its microphone picks up the agonising screech coming behind the hedges about a half mile away.
A sheep’s head is lodged uncomfortably through the wire netting on the perimeter of the land boundary. The farmer has the ability to pinpoint the exact location of the squealing sheep and the drone is controlled to fly to location to investigate and gather more data. Farmers can control the drone’s flight pattern and cameras, utilising these new tools to help the farm become more efficient. These drones can collect different outputs of data on the herd, allowing farmers to analyse the various behaviour and movement of the sheep, which leads to better manage all aspects of the farm. This technology can be implemented to help manage and control other farm animals too.
However, what is to happen with the legendary sheep dog? We know that some stubborn livestock have been reported to stand up to the dogs. Will the dogs become redundant and lose their jobs? Brookfield Aviation has heard similar debates within the aviation community about pilots and their jobs. Will they be taken over by automated aeroplanes? With new technology there is always significant questions on how society will cope with change. Humans want to be flown by human pilots, as most people will not feel comfortable without a human in control of an aeroplane.
For the foreseeable future, we feel the need for pilots will continue, as will the need for the sheep dogs to work herding the sheep. We must build a future where we utilise the innovative technology, alongside our current ways of working, leaving a better balanced and secure future of our jobs. Technology is a tool that we can use to better our lives but let’s not let it take over our lives.