March 28, 2019

You’ve probably read about robots replacing human labor as a new era of automation takes root in one industry after another.

 But humans are not the only ones who might lose their jobs.In New Zealand, farmers are using drones to herd and monitor livestock, assuming a job that highly intelligent dogs have held for more than a century.The drones have not replaced the dogs entirely, but they have appropriated one of the animal’s most potent tools: barking.

The DJI Mavic Enterprise, a $3,500 drone favored by farmers, has a feature that lets the machine record sounds and play them over a loudspeaker, giving the machine the ability to mimic its canine counterparts. Shepherds report that the machines are surprisingly effective. “When you’re moving cows and calves, the old cows stand up to the dogs,” said one shepherd. “But with the drones, they’ve never done that,” meaning the drones move livestock faster, with less stress, than the dogs do. The robots also allow farmers to monitor their land from afar, tracking water and feed levels and checking on livestock health without disturbing the animals.