Researchers at Queensland University of Technology announced the completion of the RangerBot, the first low-cost autonomous drone which is intended for use specifically in reef ecosystems. Created in conjunction with Google and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the drone is equipped with a robot vision system, which allows tablet users to control the RangerBot to monitor coral reefs in real-time. RangerBots essentially fulfill all of the tasks of a human diver but can stay underwater for much longer, collect more data, and operate in all conditions. Created with the idea of accessibility in mind, the RangerBot is inexpensive and takes about 15 minutes to learn how to use. The RangerBot can monitor reefs for a variety of issues, such as water quality, pollution, bleaching, and invasive species. Using computer vision, the RangerBot was specifically trained to identify and lethally inject crown-of-thorns starfish, a pest that kills coral. As of 2018, the RangerBot has been trialled in the Great Barrier Reef by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, as well as in laboratory settings. While the RangerBot can be trained to fulfill a variety of functions, it is unclear whether or not it can multitask.

Queensland University of Technology. (2020, May 08). Robot reef protector sees a new way to check Great Barrier Reef health. Retrieved from https://www.qut.edu.au/science-engineering/about/news?id=135110

Dunbabin, M., Dayoub, F., Lamont, R., & Martin, S. (2019). Real-time Vision-only Perception for Robotic Coral Reef Monitoring and Management. In ICRA Workshop on Underwater Robotics Perception. IEEE.


Biodiversity, Ecological Monitoring, Monitoring, Pollution, Regulation, Visual Technologies