I was surfing around researching Oxford for the Moments stories and I came across this group of Spatial Reasoning researchers working on a project called the Robot Sheepdog Project. The aim was to design a robot sheepdog that can herd sheep. Not as easy as it sounds. For a start, they used ducks cos ducks and sheep have similar “flocking patterns” and are easier to manage.
Then they had to design a mathematical model that predicted the ducks’ movements. The model was based on 3 flocking characteristics:
- attraction to one another
- repulsion from fixed obstacles such as walls
- repulsion from the dog
To move the flock, the dog has to move till it is on the other side of the flock as the target, then gently move towards the target.
Ok, enough crazy scientific sidebars for today.