A lethal AI robot will police the Great Barrier Reef for starfish

Climate change, pollution, and unsustainable fishing practices have threatened the world’s largest coral structure but there’s some hope for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. An intelligent robot is ready to protect it. Researchers have developed a robot that seeks out and kills one of the leading cause of coral loss—the crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS). This starfish is responsible for 42% of the reef’s total decline in coral cover. Human divers try to eradicate them by administering lethal injections by hand, but as co-researcher Matthew Dunbabin points out, “there just aren’t enough divers to cover all the COTS hotspots across the Great Barrier Reef.” The robot—named COTSbot—is equipped with cameras, GPS, five thrusters, an injection arm, and sensors to roam the reef for up to eight hours at a time, using its extendable…


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