Machines

The Great Barrier Reef Has A New Protector: The LarvalBot

QUTs-Matthew-Dunbabin
QUT

Back in September, researchers from the Queensland University of technology released an underwater drone that was capable of watching over the health of the Great Barrier Reef and kill invading species in an effort to preserve the area. The killer drone has suffered a transformation since: it is now not only able to take lives but to care for them as well.

The LarvalBot is a collaboration between the Queensland University of technology and the Southern Cross University and this new reiteration of the drone delivers microscopic baby corals in order to repopulate the Great Barrier Reef.

“This year represents a big step up for our larval restoration research and the first time we’ve been able to capture coral spawn on a bigger scale using large floating spawn catchers then rearing them into tiny coral larvae in our specially constructed larval pools and settling them on damaged reef areas.”

Professor Peter Harrison, Southern Cross University

The underwater drone can carry around 100,000 coral larvae on a single mission which it gently releases over the areas of the reef which have been damaged.

TheQUTube/ YouTube

The missions are easily programmed via an iPad – a signal is sent to cue the drone to deliver the larvae much like, as the researchers themselves have said, a crop duster.

Their efforts don’t stop here though: the researchers plan to build solar powered floating larval incubation pools which will be capable of rearing millions of genetically diverse larvae which subsequently can settle all across the damaged reefs.

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