Dynamic Virtual Fences for Controlling Cows
A virtual fence is created by applying an aversive stimulus to an animal when it approaches a predefined boundary. It is implemented by a small animal-borne computer system with a GPS receiver. This approach allows the implementation of virtual paddocks inside a normal physically-fenced paddock. Since the fence lines are virtual they can be moved by programming to meet the needs of animal or land management. This approach enables us to consider animals as agents with natural mobility that are controllable and to apply a vast body of theory in motion planning. In this paper we describe a herd-animal simulator and physical experiments conducted on a small herd of 10 animals using a Smart Collar. The Smart Collar consists of a GPS, PDA, wireless networking and a sound amplifier. We describe a motion planning algorithm that can move a virtual paddock subject to landscape constraints which is suitable for mustering cows. We present simulation results and data from experiments with 8 cows equipped with Smart Collars.