The RangerBot Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) project is focused on developing deployable robotic systems to help reef managers and other community groups upscale underwater monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef and reefs around the world more broadly. The research emphasis has been on development of advanced real-time image processing techniques and underwater robotic platforms to detect, count and map the distribution of a range of marine pests. These systems are now being extended to more general coral reef monitoring and management activities by further exploiting robotic vision.
Environmental Monitoring using Robot Vision
The RangerBot AUV is a novel completely vision-based robotic tool that has been developed to provide coral reef managers, researchers and community groups extra ‘hands and eyes’ in the water to help monitor and manage various threats on the Great Barrier Reef. This includes monitoring reef health indicators like coral bleaching and water quality, mapping and inspection, and pests like the Crown-Of-Thorns Starfish (COTS). The RangerBot AUV significantly extends the capabilities of its predecessor, the COTSbot AUV, and exploits real-time on-board vision for navigation, obstacle detection and management tasks. The RangerBot has been developed for single person deployment and operation from any size vessel or shoreline with an intuitive tablet-based interface created using feedback from key stakeholders. This project is in collaboration with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation with support from the Google Impact Challenge.