The Great Barrier Reef Is Now Protected By a Starfish-Killer Drone

Credit: Queensland University of Technology


It’s not a secret that the Great Barrier Reef is in danger and that, due to its size, managing its conservation effectively is a huge task, to say the least. But now researchers from the Queensland University of Technology in collaboration with QUT and Google, have come up with an underwater drone that can watch over the health of the area and kill invading species, acting as an extra pair of eyes for the staff that manages the reef.

It can stay underwater three times longer than a human diver, cruising for eight hours before it needs to charge and is capable of operating in all weather conditions. The drone is fitted with real-time guidance so it is able to avoid obstacles and move in any direction.


Credit: Queensland University of Technology

The drone can to monitor coral bleaching, water quality, pollution and sediment buildup. At the same time, it can detect crown-of-thorns starfish, which are an invasive species that eats coral. The drone injects them with vinegar or bile salts, both of which are deadly to the starfish.

If the project proves to be successful, the team hopes they will launch more drones in the future, all across the 2,300km-long reef.

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