A Drone’s Show?

Remember this?

That’s going to be more than history soon:  ancient history, as NZ Farmers eye up drones to send the dogs to the retirement home.  

The humble farm dog, an iconic fixture on the Kiwi farm, may soon be made redundant with the development of a special drone.

The country’s top drone designers are currently working on a concept for a machine that can perform many of the jobs that farm dogs do, including herding livestock and even imitating the sound of a dog’s bark.

“You can send the drone out like a dog to do the work to return with the information,” says Drone Business Development Manager Simon Morris.

Government agency Callaghan Innovation is helping promote the new technology and says the economic benefits are substantial.

It says a recent study shows unmanned aircraft technology can boost profit in agriculture and forestry alone by between $125-160 million annually.

I’d like to see a drone eyeball a stubborn Romney.  Not going to be the same.




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  • intelligentes candida diva

    I guess they will be successful for those corporate type farmers.

    I believe their will always be a place for the sheepdog.
    if one is dealing with animals then having a dog is better companionship in the paddock than a drone.

    P.S. I did enjoy that challenging encounter moment when the sheep turned around to doggy at opening of programme

  • Reid

    I’d like to see a drone eyeball a stubborn Romney. Not going to be the same.

    A sheepdog’s bark only works because the sheep know it will occasionally bite as well. Unless the drone can deliver a bite now and then, pretty soon the sheep will just carry on doing what they were doing, before that drone started buzzing round them.

    • intelligentes candida diva

      A slight digression but I do like this quote and song:

      “Are you going to bark all day little doggie or are you going to bite?

      Little Green Bag- Reservoir Dogs: http://youtu.be/aTOVcREgDZ0


      If drone’s can carry machine guns (like the ones the US and other armies use) then I am quite sure a ‘bit of bite’ won’t be any problem.

  • Ross15

    With all these new developments for using drones , I can just see the bureaucrats rubbing their hands with glee —more regulations needed = more fees = more overpaid bureaucrats.

  • 1951

    Drones can’t replace dogs, it’s the only time the Lord hears his name from the devotional ones on the land.

  • Goldfish

    How will the drone designers solve the issue that the drone will only be able to herd sheep for maybe 10 minutes before running out of power?

    • Cadae

      Easy – quick swap in and out precharged battery packs. Land the drone when it doesn’t need to do anything.

  • Murray Smith

    A good dog has more understanding of how to handle livestock than any human. The flights of fancy that belong to a drones manufacturer are sadly misplaced in this instance.
    Also, we farmers need something to swear at. Can’t imagine, “Get In Behind You Useless Piece Of @@@@@@@@@@@@@@ Tin With Wings !!”

    • Reaper

      Exactly, a good working dog not only reacts with lightning speed to a bolting sheep (much faster than a human-operated drone could do) but can also somehow anticipate what the sheep is going to do before it has even done it. No drone will ever be able to do that.

  • Hard1

    I’d like to see the headline ;
    “Drones set to replace Labour list MPs as Leader tries to increase fan base”

    • taurangaruru

      They are drones already, Clarke made sure of that before she departed.

      • IKIDUNOT

        There you have it! That’s why the list of recent Labour leaders lack any form of personality.

  • taurangaruru

    Cannot see a drone operating in the hill country in NZ where mobile phone reception is non existent. Probably work quite well on the flats around Hamilton & Cambridge but then there ain’t no sheep in those parts.

    • Cadae

      Is that because drones don’t need mobile phones, but their techie operators won’t live without a mobile ?

      • taurangaruru

        I am assuming a pre programmed flight path will not cut the mustard when herding sheep, i.e. there will have to be interaction with a person controlling the drone & again assume that will be done over mobile phone networks – definitely no expert & willing to be corrected by someone in the know on these matters. Maybe they will build enough intelligence into the drone that it could make the calculations necessary to react to every move of the sheep, that would be some programme, a sheep dog is a very intelligent animal.

        • Dumrse

          I’m no expert either but I can say Drones are not reliant upon any cellular network. That said RC aircraft need to remain in range of their transmission signal and if per chance that was on a hill top, then you may well be able run on pre programmed circuits. However, I don’t see drone mustering making mans best friend redundant. Certainly not in a hurry.

        • Cadae

          Drone control is via standard RC or via WiFi signals, and can extend out to several kilometres for advanced drones. For long-distance control, a live video feed is typically used on a separate channel. Mobile phone networks are not used.

          • taurangaruru

            Thanks for the information but I assume similar applies i.e. the terrain would make life difficult to keep connectivity with the drone.

  • BloodyOrphan

    I’d say it’s a must have tool for inspecting fence lines and all sorts of other things.
    Would save the average farmer a lot of time bare minimum.

    • Grocersgirl

      Would save hill country farmers a lot of back and knee pain too.

  • cows4me

    Yes but will it bite the tires of the regional council, insurance salesmen and Jehovah Witnesses cars?

  • Caprice

    I can see a drone mustering okay, but not catching and holding an individual sheep. Would also be good for wapiti, who are not fond of dogs.

  • -D