Thanks to GPS tracking technology, experts now understand more about how a single dog is able to herd a flock of sheep.
A recent study published in the Journal of The Royal Society Interface reveals information about the tricks and techniques sheepdogs used to herd sheep. In fact, herding sheep is often done by a single dog, which is proven to be both a mystery and unbelievable feat to many people. That’s because herding sheep is no difficult task, yet one skilled sheepdog is able to convince dozens of them to move efficiently in the same direction.
Finally, through this study, the big question is answered. Researchers at the Uppsala University in Sweden fitted a herd of 46 female merino sheep and a well-trained Australian Kelpie sheepdog so that they could analyze the data and determine exactly how it works. The tracking devices were each encased in small backpacks that were placed on each of the animals.
The GPS tracking data was collected as the dog successfully herded the sheep. Researchers then poured over the data and created a computer model of the entire scene in front of them. What they found is that the dog uses very specific techniques to get the sheep to move in one direction.
The data showed that the dog begins by grouping the sheep together by walking around them side-by-side at the back, urging the sheep to move closer into a group. Any time there is a gap between sheep, the dog works to bring those sheep together, so that it only sees one big fluff of white in front of it.
The dog is continuously working to be sure the sheep herd is cohesive. It continues in this manner until it is happy with their grouping. Once they are in a group, the dog is able to nudge them forward toward the target area.
This is an amazing feat since it is not uncommon for one sheepdog to move a herd of 80-100 sheep at one time. Through this model and with the help of the GPS tracking data collected, researchers believe a dog that is well trained could herd over 100 sheep, though it might take a little longer.
Not only is the mystery of how sheepdogs herd sheep of this magnitude solved, but the researchers believe that these intelligent dogs and the technique they use could be used in other ways. They think it would be the same application for herding livestock, keeping animals out of certain areas, cleaning the environment, and even crowd control.
By getting everyone or every animal, close together, it is easier to move them as one unit, as opposed to attempting to move them one at a time. Daniel Strombom, head researcher at Uppsala, is interested to see exactly what these sheepdogs are able to do, regardless of the number of sheep in the herd.
Winter is coming – to Winterfell and to your neck of the woods. This means that more people are going to be taking their outdoor pursuits of spring, summer, and fall, and hunkering down for a nice long winter in front of their television sets.
This means that people who dropped cable in the summer, will often pick it up again. There also may be an uptick in repair services as people begin noticing problems with their lines from storms and other events over the past several months.
GPS tracking can help you streamline the callout process to ensure your cable business is getting the best possible bang for its buck when responding to customer calls. These are just a few ways cable companies can benefit from GPS tracking.
Accurate Response/Service Time Window
Nothing is more frustrating for cable customers than waiting around all day for a truck that doesn’t arrive when promised – other than having one arrive early when they’re not at home. GPS tracking allows you to provide a much more accurate window of time for callouts according to traffic and location of trucks in the area.
More Efficient Fuel Usage
Gas may not be at an all-time high right now, but it’s high enough to put a crimp in business budgets. Conserving fuel on high-consumption vehicles like cable trucks can help your business cut costs. GPS fleet tracking and fleet management helps plan the most fuel efficient routes so that drivers aren’t operating at cross purposes. More importantly, it can reroute drivers in order to diminish idle times when Interstates tend to turn into parking lots.
Eliminates Lost Drivers
Face it, some addresses are hard to find on traditional maps. In many cases, you’d be more likely to win the lottery than to get accurate, easy to follow directions from homeowners. GPS eliminates the need for driving directions and map reading – especially in communities growing faster than maps can be printed.
It’s easy for drivers to get lost and that costs precious time and money most businesses can’t easily absorb. GPS tracking lets you know where your drivers are at all times and tells them how to get from that point to where they need to go.
Holds Employees Accountable
GPS tracking allows you to track vehicle locations to ensure employees are where they’re supposed to be (this also aids in verifying service calls to customers and eliminates the risk that employees are tending to personal business in company vehicles on company time). GPS tracking also holds employees accountable to their actions behind the wheel. You can tell how fast or recklessly they’re driving in trucks carrying your cable company brand representing your business.
Winter may be coming, but GPS tracking can help you get a grip on your callout related expenses this winter and beyond. These are just a few examples of the benefits GPS technology has to offer your cable company. If you’re in the cable company business, call us at LiveViewGPS at 1.888.502.3636 to explore your GPS tracking options for your fleet.
Mysterious sailing stones are followed with GPS tracking devices, providing more information to researchers about their movement.
Death Valley National Park is known for many things, ranging from the rocket-high temperatures, to the barren lands. Another thing it is known for is having sailing stones.
What are Sailing Stones
Sailing stones are rocks that move across level surfaces without being aided by humans, animals, or gravity. Up until now, the way this occurs has been a mystery. These are not all lightweight rocks either; some have been 700 pounds, still able to move along the soil.
Theories of the Sailing Stones
There have been many theories over the years about how the sailing stones are able to move, from magnetic fields to strong winds. Others believe it was actually humans pulling a prank and moving it on their own, while some even blamed it on extraterrestrials. The stones, up until now, are simply referred to as a geological phenomenon. They move every few years, leaving striated tracks where they moved.
The Mystery of the Sailing Stones Solved with GPS Tracking Technology
A study performed by Richard Norris of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and James Norris of Interwoof, which was published in PloSone, shows more in-depth information about the sailing stones. The study used GPS tracking devices that were placed on 15 rocks in Racetrack Playa, which is a dry lake formation in Death Valley, and known to be a common place for the moving rocks.
The study lasted for two years, which was undoubtedly a very long two years. Even Dr. Ralph Lorenz, one of the researchers at Johns Hopkins University, called it the most boring experiment ever. However, it was when Richard and Jim Norris, of Scripps and Interwoof respectively, came to look at the water-flooded area that they saw the sailing phenomenon for themselves.
It was pure luck that they happened to arrive when the rocks began to move. They thought the rocks might not have movement until the five-year mark, but at two years, they were lucky enough to see it happen. By viewing the movement and looking at the GPS data, they have determined that there are very specific geological conditions that must be present for the rocks to move.
The water that flooded the Playa was the first indication. It must be deep enough for the base of the rocks to be surrounded by a thin pane of ice. Once they are covered in the ice, any type of wind can move them. After they begin moving, they do so slowly, and stop occasionally. The reason there were striated marks from movements, is because they end up making changes in direction when the wind shifts.
For movement to occur, the ice cannot be too thick, the wind has to be steady, and the day cannot be too sunny. This is why, researchers believe, it only happens every few years.