Researchers want to use AI technology to identify when a sheep is in pain

(Mirror Daily, United States) – Scientists might soon be able to tell when animals are in pain with the help of an artificial intelligence tool. By using this advanced mechanism, they could identify different facial expressions of sheep, and thus determine how the animal is feeling. This means they could help the animal when in need and improve its condition.

Sheep’s faces change when they are in pain

The tool was developed by scientists from the University of Cambridge. By using machine learning, they were able to design the Sheep Pain Facial Expression Scale (SPFES). After carefully analyzing the facial expressions of the sheep, the tool can estimate the pain the sheep is experiencing.

Researchers have previously worked on similar tools for humans, but Darwin’s theory inspired them to create something similar for animals. He argued that some animals showed emotions in a strikingly similar way to humans, so they thought the same AI mechanism might work for these animals as well.

They found out that five different things happened to a sheep’s face while in pain. Their cheeks get tighter, their ears get folded, the form of their lips changes, their eyes narrow, and their nostrils change shape, forming a V.

Getting sheep to ‘pose’ for the AI camera might be difficult

All these observations were put up in the expression scale and, then, a series of 500 photos were used as a learning material for the AI mechanism. Early tests showed that the mechanism was able estimate pain with an accuracy of 80 percent.

However, sometimes it might be difficult for the mechanism to work. For instance, a sheep’s profile is much different than the front view of its face. Therefore, getting sheep to pose in a certain position might be hard.

Nevertheless, this is a great advancement which would help receive treatment immediately, so that their condition won’t get worse. Placing a camera with an AI tool on a water trough would help farmers spot sheep in pain in no time.
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