Aquatic robot seeks and destroys reef-killing starfish

On Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the Crown-of-thorns starfish is the scourge of the deep as it eats and destroys large swathes of coral and threatens the overall health of the reef. This starfish is proving difficult to find and eradicate with conventional methods, so Queensland University of Technology researchers have created a hunter-killer robot – dubbed the COTSbot – that’s designed to automatically search out and destroy these aquatic pests.

Responsible for approximately 40 percent of the Great Barrier Reef’s total decline in coral cover, the COTS has been munching its destructive way for quite some time now. The COTS usually lives in relative harmony within reefs, but when conditions are right, it breeds and multiplies at a high rate and the coral polyps on which it feeds cannot regenerate quickly enough to adequately recover from such a large onslaught.

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