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Kamloops university seeks cow-spying drone

A Kamloops school of higher learning wants to buy a drone.

Thompson Rivers University has advertised a request for proposals seeking an unmanned aerial vehicle to perform "precision low-altitude flights" to spy on cows.

"The successful vendor will supply an unmanned aerial vehicle that can be used to locate livestock on forested ranges as well as for early disease detection of sick animals in feedlots," said the tendering document, which was issued Aug. 29.

"In addition, it will be used to investigate the tolerance levels and behavioural responses of cattle to the UAVs, as well as the use of infrared thermal images of cattle in a feedlot setting to identify metabolically efficient animals following a nutritional fast."

The RFP says images and data gathered by drone can save the cattle industry time and reduce operational costs in finding lost or sick animals on range or in feedlots.

Deadline for bids is Sept. 18. TRU wants drone delivery by Nov. 1.

The document said TRU is seeking a drone that can fly 4,000 feet above sea level at a temperature as low as -20 Celsius. Take-off and landing should be automatic, the drone should be remotely controlled within line of sight, with the option of live feed or downloading images from the camera.

TRU was founded in 1973 at Cariboo College and became a degree granting university in 1989. It was rebranded TRU in 2004.

Veteran journalist Bob Mackin is a frequent contributor to The Tyee.

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