Social Control of Herd Animals by Integration of Artificially Controlled Congeners

  • Nikolaus Correll
  • Mac Schwager
  • Daniela Rus
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5040)


We study social control of a cow herd in which some of the animals are controlled by a sensing and actuation device mounted on the cow. The control is social in that it aims at exploiting the existing gregarious behavior of the animals, rather than controlling each individual directly. As a case study we consider the open-loop control of the herd’s position using location-dependent stimuli. We propose a hybrid dynamical model for capturing the dynamics of the animals during periods of grazing and periods of stress. We assume that stress can either be induced by the sensing and actuation device or by social amplification due to observing/overhearing nearby stressed congeners. The dynamics of the grazing part of the proposed model have been calibrated using experimental data from 10 free-ranging cows, and various assumptions on the animal behavior under stress are investigated by a parameter sweep on the hybrid model. Results show that the gregarious behavior of the animals must be increased during stress for control by undirected stimuli to be successful. We also show that the presence of social amplification of stress allows for robust, low-stress control by controlling only a fraction of the herd.


Social Control Stressed Animal Behavioral Mode Parameter Sweep Fence Area 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikolaus Correll
    • 1
  • Mac Schwager
    • 1
  • Daniela Rus
    • 1
  1. 1.Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence LaboratoryMassachusetts Institute of Technology 

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