Cow Control or Elsie We Are Watching

April 1, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Australia already uses remotely controlled drones to herd sheep. Drones are considered more ethnical tax traditional herding methods because they’re less stressful for sheep.

Now the island continent is using advanced tracking technology to monitor buffalos and cows. Euro News investigates how technology is used in the cattle industry: “Scientists Are Attempting To Track 1000 Cattle And Buffalo From Using GPS, AI, And Satellites.”

An estimated 22000 buffalo freely roam in Arnhem Land, Australia. The emphasis is on estimate, because the exact number is unknown. These buffalo are harming Arnhem Land’s environment. One feral buffalo weighing 1200 kilograms and 188 cm not only damages the environment by eating a lot of plant life but also destroys cultural rock art, ceremonial sites, and waterways. Feral buffalos and cattle are major threats to Northern Australia’s economy and ecology.

Scientists, cattlemen, and indigenous rangers have teamed up to work on a program that will monitor feral bovines from space. The program is called SpaceCows and will last four years. It is a large-scale remote herd management system powered by AI and satellite. It’s also supported by the Australian government’s Smart Farming Partnership.

The rangers and stockmen trap feral bovines, implant solar-powered GPS tags, and release them. The tags transmit the data to a space satellite located 650 km away for two years or until it falls off. SpaceCows relies on Microsoft Azure’s cloud platform. The satellites and AI create a digital map of the Australian outback that tells them where feral cows live:

“Once the rangers know where the animals tend to live, they can concentrate on conservation efforts – by fencing off important sites or even culling them. ‘There’s very little surveillance that happens in these areas. So, now we’re starting to build those data sets and that understanding of the baseline disease status of animals,’ said Andrew Hoskins, a senior research scientist at CSIRO.

If successful, it could be one of the largest remote herd management systems in the world.”

Hopefully SpaceCows will protect the natural and cultural environment.

Whitney Grace, April 1, 2024


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