Starfish-tracking eco-bots help protect vulnerable coral reef

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When an environment becomes vulnerable, acting quickly can be the difference between preservation and decimation. Given the expenses and logistics of human operatives, conservationists are turning to robotics for environmental protection — researchers at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have developed an autonomous underwater vehicle for protecting Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The robot trawls near the sea bottom searching for Crown-Of-Thorns Starfish (COTS) — hence the name COTSbot. The starfish feed on corals that make up much of the reef’s biodiversity, but in times of population outbreak, they become a major source of coral reef mortality, which affects fish…

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