Never Again Lose Your Cow

Apr 28, 2009

GPS-enhanced bovines emit location, direction and, um, speed

Fleet drivers get lost going from delivery A to delivery B all the time. People lose cars in mall parking lots daily. And who hasn’t lost their keys? But losing a cow in a pasture? Yep.

No one ever claimed that a cow had a keen sense of direction. If anything, they indirectly roam, heads down, guided only by a blind habitual hunger and a fence line. But take away the acres of expensive fencing to contain the herd, and it’s easier than you think to come up a few head short.
recently covered Fortune Small Business annual nod that celebrates cutting edge entrepreneurs. It seems this past year on the USDA’s 193,000-acre ranch near Las Cruces, N.M., Dean Anderson and Daniela Rus are testing an idea based on what they call “virtual fencing.” GPS-receiver headsets on each cow wrap from ear to ear and feature an accelerometer, a magnetometer tracking the cow’s speed, location and direction.

Apparently, when the cow ventures into a pre-programmed virtual boundary, a computer-activated sound alerts the cow that it’s gone too far. Like a harmless little digital cow whisperer. But at about $600 per “Ear-A-Round,” it won’t be any time soon before they’re commercially available. And no word if it comes programmed with that charming British accent.

Read the entire story here.