Cybermoor are working with local farmers Chris and Richard Harrison of Coatlith Hill Farm, Alston to test out cutting-edge technology using unmanned aerial systems (UAS) as "eyes in the skies" to monitor their livestock.
"Flying Shepherd" drone pictured on a test flight at Coatlith Hill Farm, Alston
So in practice, how would it work .... say a farmer needs to check on some sheep grazing on fields up on the fellside, to make sure that none are sick, in distress or have escaped from the field. Launching a UAS from their Land Rover on the road, they would watch a live video stream transmitted from the UAS to a laptop or other device, which would allow them to see behind walls and into fields, saving them travelling off the road. Should they see a problem, they can drive up to sort it out, or if everything looks fine, they continue on their way.
Cybermoor's wireless wide area network covers approximately 25 square miles of fields, hamlets and towns in and around Alston Moor and this feasibility study project is part of its aim to develop new and innovative ways of using broadband in rural areas, to benefit rural businesses and communities. Another potential user of the technology could be Search and Mountain Rescue Teams.
"Cybermoor has always aimed to innovate in the use of broadband in rural areas. We often hear about how fast broadband for rural businesses is uneconomic for big operators to deliver - projects like this demonstrate how new services can benefit farmers if they have the right connection" comments Daniel Heery, Cybermoor Project Manager.
The study projects are being funded by the Technology Strategy Board , the UK's national innovation agency, as part of their "The Internet of Things" initiative, which is looking to create an ecosystem of applications and services using internet-enabled devices that can network and communicate with each other and with other web-enabled gadgets.