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Starfish-Killing Robosub Ready to Test on GBR
By Ian Seldrup, September 4, 2015 @ 06:45 AM (EST)
Source: BBC

Crown-of-thorns (COTS) starfish are a true thorn in the side of the marine conservation community, decimating reef systems throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans. But now a new autonomous robot is about to begin its seek and destroy mission to rid Australia’s Great Barrier Reef of these much-maligned creatures.

Created by a team from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, the COTSbot is designed to locate starfish using its computer vision and machine learning system and then administer a lethal injection of thiosulfate-citrate-bile salts-sucrose agar—which will kill COTS in 24 hours but leave everything else on the reef unharmed.

“Later this month we begin deploying the robot in the Great Barrier Reef to evaluate our state-of-the-art vision-based crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) detection system,” said Queensland University of Technology researcher Matthew Dunbabin. “Over the next five months we plan to progressively increase the level of autonomy the robot is allowed, leading to autonomous detection and injection of the starfish.”

The researchers used thousands of still images of the reef and videos to train the 65-pound torpedo-shaped vehicle to recognise COTS from among a huge range of corals.

Check out the video below to see how the COTSbot takes out its target.




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