A prototype for a large flying drone specifically designed to herd reindeer in the freezing climes of Greenland has been launched by three developers in Iceland – just in time for Father Christmas.
Designed and produced in Iceland, the project has been 18 months in the making and is the brainchild of Stefan Hrafn Magnusson, a reindeer farmer in Greenland, Jon H. Arnarson, an engineer and specialist in unmanned aircraft, and businessman Ingvar Garoarsson.
According to local media, Magnusson has had a reindeer farm in Isortoq in southern Greenland since 1988.
To herd the animals on his 1,500-square-kilometre (579- square-mile) grazing farm, Magnusson had to use helicopters in the past.
He told local media: “I used to have a very expensive helicopter operation for herding the animals.”
According to the reindeer farmer, factory-built drones like those used by some Icelandic shepherds do not work well for herding reindeer.
He explained that their range is often insufficient for the vast distances in Greenland, plus the cold temperatures affect the batteries and overall performance.
Their developed drone is 2.46 metres (nine feet) in diameter and comes with six motors. The rotors run on two small batteries and a gasoline-powered generator keeps them continually charged.
On a full tank, it can fly at speeds of 18 kph (11 mph) and when it is lighter in weight it can reach speeds of up to 50 kph (31 mph).
Reports said the drone is remote-controlled and can be programmed to follow predetermined routes.
During tests in Greenland in August, the reindeer responded well to the drone-like they do with helicopters, according to Magnusson.
He added: “You could call the drone a highly developed herding dog.”
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