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Do androids dream of herding electric sheep?

Kiwi drones on about how good it is. Just wait until it wants more life

While technology has helped cats take over the world (in terms of video clips at least) it is now simultaneously contributing to the demise of a small, yet respected, section of their canine foes, namely sheepdogs.

A number of shepherds are turning to drones as a more efficient way of shifting their flock.

Michael Thomson from New Zealand is the latest farmer to go robo. He told the Wall Street Journal his homemade drone is the fastest way to move the roughly 1,000 sheep on his sister’s farm.

All you need to do is “just give it more batteries,” he said.

Some of the sheep remain placid until the drone is a foot away from them. "Then they realise, Oh crap. I got to run,” he says. “Sheep are naturally scared of things that might attack them.” Or bomb them.

Last week Paul Brennan from Carlow, Ireland herded his flock as filmed from the aerial perspective of his pet drone.

"It doesn't bark, and it doesn't bite, it doesn't need feeding — three of the benefits of using a drone as a sheepdog," Brennan told the BBC.

However, the National Farmers' Union disagrees with the idea that drone herding will take off. "The reality is that a good sheepdog is a far better way to go about the job," said a spokesman.

In any case, it's hard to imagine anyone inventing a robotic cat to catch mice anytime soon. ®

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