Saving the Great Barrier Reef – Research Impact Case Study

Prof. Matt Dunbabin has, and continues to, initiate, and deliver real-world, high-impact research through sustained partnerships with industry and philanthropy. Prof Dunbabin and his research team have developed a series of surface and submersible robots. The robots help protect the Great Barrier Reef, using computer vision and AI.

The robot’s capabilities are applied to tasks such as coral reef restoration, detection and control of crown-of-thorns starfish, and 3D mapping. The robots can function remotely, autonomously and in fleets, enabling researchers to quickly gather large amounts of data to help protect the reef.

Outcomes from Prof Dunbabin’s partnership with SEQWater won the Australian Water Association Program Innovation Award (servicing over 250,000 end users), and in 2020 led to a new 3-year innovation research program. His ongoing engagement with a US-based philanthropy, currently in its third Phase, has secured over $2M to develop technology-based solutions for scaling reef restoration across developing countries.