The Great Barrier Reef has a new robotic ally.
In September, RangerBot, developed by researchers at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), looking for a deadly sea star that shakes the coral, in addition to mapping and monitoring the health of the reef. Now, this lethal blast is designed not only to take life but also to deliver it.
come in LarvalBot, a robotic midwife on a barrier reef.
Collaboration between researchers at Queensland Technical University (QUT) and Southern Cross University (SCU), LarvalBot is able to deliver baby corals through the Great Barrier Reef as a "submarine grate for harvest.
"It's like spreading fertilizer on your grass," says Matthew Dunbabin, a QUT professor and developer of choke technology. "Like [the drone] while we are heading to the place where the larvae must be distributed so that new colonies can be formed and new coral communities developed. "
From October to December, parts of the Great Barrier Reef undergo a tremendous coral reproduction event, where many coral species separate eggs and semen from their cavity into the water. The packs float to the surface and fertilize, creating coral larvae before settling on the ocean floor and eventually becoming a colony.
During the spawning event, SCU researchers gathered the packets and took care of them by preparing them for scrapping. This process has been refined by a team led by Professor Peter Harrison and including researchers at James Cook University and the Sydney Technical University.
Loading 100,000 larvae in LarvalBot, the researchers were able to use the mind of the drones to find certain reef sections that would benefit from the redistribution of the coral. Working with the dragon through the iPad, a researcher could tell him to drop his payload – hundreds of thousands of coral babies – into the reef.
This is like a version of Hans Christian Anderson's "The Great Barrier Reef" of Storks.
It is important that this was only the first attempt that killer-drown technology could be re-engineered and deployed for another purpose and so far it seems to work as intended. But this is not the end – in 2019, the team will try to catch and take care of even more coral larvae by using LarvalBot to relocate corals to damaged parts of the reef.
"With further research and refinement, this technique has enormous potential to work in large areas of reefs and multiple sites in a way that has not been possible so far," Professor Harrison said.
The Great Barrier Reef, a world heritage site, has undergone numerous coral bleaching events and suffered decades of climate change and pollution. Drone Technology is part of the wider effort of using technologyand to try to restore and protect the site.
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