Now Robots Are Coming for Dogs’ Jobs, Too

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Nov. 15 2013 12:32 PM

Now Robots Are Coming for Dogs’ Jobs, Too

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Who will retrain this dog for a new high-tech position?

Photo by DANIEL GARCIA/AFP/Getty Images

Those dastardly robots! They aren’t content to replace bartenders, journalists, and lawyers—now they’re coming after jobs performed by dogs, humans’ other favorite mammal.

Researchers in Australia have created a robot that can herd cattle. Its name, of course, is Rover. While a human being has to guide Rover for now, there are plans to automate it, according to BBC News.

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For city slickers like me who enjoy watching a dog earn his kibble the old-fashioned way, this is a tragedy of automation. But according to the BBC, some Australian farmers with no sense of tradition have taken to rounding up their beasts with four-wheelers, which can cause injuries to human and animal alike. Rover offers a safe alternative if you’re already planning to the Australian cattle dog out to pasture. And as you can see in the video below, the bot's performance is pretty impressive.

Obviously, the next step for the researchers is creating a sheep-herding version of Rover that can belt out a proper “Baa-ram-ewe.”

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. Follow her on Twitter.