Joe the Cowboy Drone

Noam Azran, owner of BeeFree Agro

“Noam Azran is an Israeli version of the classic cowboy–a passionate rancher living in the Upper Galilee. But he’s ready to give up the romance of the open plain for technology that will reduce his herding costs and give him time with his family. Azran’s company, BeeFree Agro, is developing ‘Joe,’ an autonomous drone system Azran has dubbed the world’s first ‘click and herd’ solution–or, if you will, ‘Cowboy as a Service.’ The cattle respond to the movement of the drone, rather than the sound. ‘Although sometimes we do add sounds of dogs barking,’ Azran notes. ‘What matters is that we move them with the least amount of stress possible. If we try to scare them away, it just creates a mess.’ Joe is controlled by a mobile app. The software first pilots the drone around the countryside to scout out the most efficient herding routes. Then it’s one click to launch the drone. Onboard cameras provide a live video stream to the Joe app so the rancher knows what’s happening in real time. The cows (or camels in Dubai’s case) need to have GPS tags attached so the system can track them. The drones can fly up to five kilometers and a single drone can move up to 1,000 head of cattle. After Israel, BeeFree’s first international market will be Texas, home to 10% of all the cattle in the United States. BeeFree aims to have 10 to 20 pilot programs around the world running in 2021. The name ‘Joe’ comes from Azran’s favorite shepherd dog. ‘Joe displays all the characteristics of a good herding pal: he’s intelligent, loyal, follows orders, is autonomous and fast,’ Azran notes.”

“Meet Joe, the drone,”, Dec. 27, 2020