The Great Barrier Reef is in grave danger, but a killer drone may just be key in helping it heal. Problems for the reef continue to mount: Coral bleaching events become more frequent as climate change spirals out of control, poor governance, increasing industrialization, overfishing and pollution runoff have all contributed to its decline. It’s easy to point the finger at human beings — and so we should — but there’s another creature that deals great damage to the reef. The crown-of-thorns starfish. In fact, it is suspected that a lot of the increasing human activity in and around the reef has driven crown-of-thorns starfish numbers sky high and that’s a problem. The starfish feeds on native coral that call the reef home — and they are key to the reef’s ecology. No coral, no reef and so the starfish must be destroyed. Enter the Killer Drones. In 2015, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) unveiled the technology known as the Crown-Of-Thorns Starfish robot (COTSbot) to deal with the threat. When deployed, the autonomous robot was able to seek out crown-of-thorns starfish (with 99 percent accuracy) and inject them with a chemical cocktail that causes them to break out in nasty blisters and eventually die. Now Playing: Watch this: Here’s how scientists want to rescue the Great Barrier… 8:07 Now, that same research team has unveiled RangerBot, the latest iteration on that idea. The yellow underwater drone looks kind of like a tiny fluorescent whale shark with rotors instead… [Read full story]
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