The crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) were found to be responsible for more than 40 per cent of the decline in the Great Barrier Reef’s coral cover. To tackle the problem a new Terminator-like robot is being developed by researchers at the Queensland University of Technology.
A 2012 study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science found that due to COTS huge numbers, the invertebrates munch their way through the endangered ecosystem.
The submarine-style killer robot which can function for up to eight hours at a time, is being specifically designed to identify and neutralise the starfish threat. It is is able to deliver 200 shots of a fatal dose of bile salts, via an extending pneumatic injection arm aimed in the direction of the starfish.
Matthew Dunbabin from QUT’s Institute for Future Environments, said in a press release, “Human divers are doing an incredible job of eradicating this starfish from targeted sites but there just aren’t enough divers to cover all the COTS hotspots across the Great Barrier Reef.”
“We see the COTSbot as a first responder for ongoing eradication programs – deployed to eliminate the bulk of COTS in any area, with divers following a few days later to hit the remaining COTS.”
COTSbot trials on living targets will take place at the Great Barrier Reef later this month. If successful, the COTSbots could change the starfish’s destructive course as ground a fleet of 10 or 100 COTSbots could work work effectively, despite weather conditions or anytime of the day or night.