Australia unveils starfish-killing robot to protect Barrier Reef

A species of starfish called crown-of-thorns starfish eat corals, threatening the already sensitive Great Barrier Reef.

Equipped with a high-tech vision system which allows it to "see" underwater, and operated using a smart tablet, RangerBot is the low-priced, autonomous robot concept that won the 2016 Google Impact Challenge People's Choice prize, enabling QUT roboticists to develop innovative robotics technology into a real-life reef protector.

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Professor Matthew Dunbabin said RangerBot was not only autonomous but could also stay under water three times longer than a human diver and operate in all weather conditions. "It can relief to plan enormous underwater areas at scales not beforehand that you potentially can have in mind, making it a precious instrument for reef research and administration."Right here is, no doubt, a remotely operated automobile supposed for inhabitants abet watch over of a particular starfish, in squawk to provide protection to no doubt some of the world's most distinguished pure wonders".

"RangerBot can stay underwater nearly three times longer than a human diver, gather more data, and operate in all conditions and at all times of the day or night, including where it may not be safe for a human diver".

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Professor Dunbabin said unlike single-purpose marine robots - which are more manual and based on expensive acoustic technologies - RangerBot uses innovative vision-based technologies.

In 2016, the project won the "Google Impact Challenge" and got $750,000 of funding, allowing the team to create it.

Great Barrier Reef Foundation managing director Anna Marsden said the robot will help secure the source of food and income for the half a billion people who depend on healthy reef systems globally. As a learn about by the Australian Institute of Marine Science suggests, coral duvet declined by 50 percent from 1985 to 2012, with nearly half of that tumble attributable to the coral-destroying starfish species.

The ongoing collaboration between Google, QUT and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation uses computer vision and machine learning to identify the destructive echinoderms and injecting them with a lethal dose of poison. It can also be used as a remote monitoring device for observing the reef with its high-tech vision system.

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