Underwater drones kill crown-of-thorns starfish to protect Great Barrier Reef

Posted: August 31, 2018 by oldbrew in innovation, Ocean dynamics

Feeding scars of white coral skeleton [image credit: JSLUCAS75 @ Wikipedia]

‘An individual starfish can consume up to 6 square metres (65 sq ft) of living coral reef per year’ – Wikipedia. Over-population in some areas has damaged the local reef.

Robot drones are set to be tested underwater to protect the Great Barrier Reef from crown-of-thorns starfish, reports BT.com.

The autonomous RangerBot is able to spot the coral-eating starfish with 99.4% accuracy and kill them using a fatal injection.

Researchers at Queensland University of Technology have been working with Google and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation on the technology for around two years, in a bid to monitor a range of issues facing coral reefs including coral bleaching, water quality, pest species and pollution.

“RangerBot is the world’s first underwater robotic system designed specifically for coral reef environments, using only robot-vision for real-time navigation, obstacle avoidance and complex science missions,” said Professor Dunbabin.

“We’ve ‘trained’ RangerBot to detect crown-of-thorns starfish – and only these coral-destroying starfish – in much the same way as people learn to differentiate between various forms of sea life.”

The drone is not only autonomous, but can also stay underwater almost three times longer than a human diver, as well as operating at any time of day and under any conditions.

Continued here.

  1. stpaulchuck says:

    for goodness sakes DO NOT SMASH UP COT’s!! The pieces each generate into another crown of thorns. A shot of formaldehyde usually does the trick.

  2. oldbrew says:

  3. SasjaL says:

    What will happen to the poison, when the starfish is dead? Does it break down quickly or remain intact when scavengers do their stuff?

  4. MrGrimNasty says:

    Back when I was at school a long time ago, CoTs were THE threat and explanation that accompanied the pictures of dead stretches of reef.

  5. oldbrew says:

    Run-off of excess farming nutrients from nearby land is part of the problem, on the GBR and elsewhere.

  6. Bloke down the pub says:

    Whenever the environmentalists come up with some scheme to save the planet, it’s usually just a matter of time before the unintended consequences raise their head.

  7. RexAlan says:

    So CoT’s are not natural and need to be controlled? I just wish we would stop interfering with nature.

  8. oldbrew says:

    Rex: see video above.

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