COTSbot seeks out and controls the Great Barrier Reef’s crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS), which are responsible for an estimated 40 per cent of the reef’s total decline in coral cover. Currently human divers are equipping themselves and eradicating this starfish from targeted sites, however there aren’t sufficient divers to cover all the COTS hotspots across the Great Barrier Reef. COTSbot has been developed as a first responder for ongoing eradication programs – deployed to eliminate the bulk of COTS in any area, with divers following a few days later to hit the remaining COTS.
COTSbot is designed to search the reef for up to eight hours at a time, delivering more than 200 lethal shots. Robots that can work day and night and in any weather conditions. For this reason, COTSbot becomes a real force multiplier for the eradication process. The more of them that are deployed, the more ground the programs could cover. It is equipped with stereoscopic cameras to give it depth perception, five thrusters to maintain stability, GPS and pitch-and-roll sensors and a unique pneumatic injection arm to deliver a fatal dose of bile salts.
The QUT roboticists successfully trialled COTSbot to the Great Barrier Reef, verifying each COTS identification the robot made before the robot is allowed to inject it. The roboticists have begun to scale up the manufacturing and deployment of the COTSbot.
For future development, see the rangerbot.