The same GPS technology, we frequently use to understand what is the unusual location we are driving our car, or our mountain-byke to, when we move across the country, among corn fields or woodlands, has being used by some ARS-USDA agricultural scientists to track the cattle, moving across wide rangelands (ARS is a scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture).
The GPS devices receive their position on the earth by means of satellite networks, composed with individual satellites moving around the earth at its same speed.
The GPS devices are also equiped with wide memories in which are stored maps and geospatial data to be provided to the GPS devices whenever they need, during their operativity.
The GPS is able, in such way, to display on its little screen the exact map location where we are driving our vehicle, with its relative geospatial data, for example: street name, restaurants, hotels, and so on.
But what kind of data would need our cows grazing in the rangeland? The bionic cows will be equipped with a GPS device. Then the informations about their location are transmitted in the control station, from where the farmer will wisper some simply orders in the cow ears, they could receive by means of a wireless doughnut-shaped stereo headset (= Ear-A-Round = EAR) giving the cows left-direction and right-direction orders, and others signals so that the cows can stop feeding, move and return to gather into the corral. By means of other function of the same device we can act so that the cows perform other, remotely transmitted, actions like stop crossing boundaries, or stop making other dangerous action.
This research has been conducted by Dean M. Anderson from ARS USDA who is still working at with his collegue Daniela Rus and a team of engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, with electronic skills in robotics and mobile computing.
All this was possible thanks to an Anderson previously patented technology for virtual fencing termed Directional Virtual Fencing (DVF). The researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed and prototyped a miniaturized electronics package for DVF devices that is solar- powered and is packaged as a headset device.
This is only one of the possible applications that could take place in the next future by developing the already well known GPS technology and applying them to cattle breeding; other applications could develop by applying similar devices to wildlife species to monitor their movements and to the domestic pets.
Source: Agriculture Research Service (ARS) of US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Author: Luca Federico Fianchini, Jun 06, 2008