Starfish killer robot ready to protect the Great Barrier Reef

<pre><pre>Starfish killer robot ready to protect the Great Barrier Reef

A submarine drone that can monitor the health of the Great Barrier Reef and kill invasive species is ready to be put to the test.

Researchers at Queensland University of Technology say their reef protective robot can monitor coral bleaching, water quality, pest species, pollution and sediment accumulation.

He has also been trained to detect crown starfish with 99 percent accuracy and can inject vinegar or bile salts to coral stars, both deadly to the invading predator.

Professor Matthew Dunbabin said that the RangerBot was not only autonomous but could also remain submerged three times longer than a human diver and operate under any climatic conditions.

"It's an impressive technology, (it's) also a deliberately low cost to allow production to expand once the next level of operational testing is completed and all the necessary approvals have been approved," he said on Friday.

QUT Professor Matthew Dunbabin, on the right, with the RangerBot.

University of Technology Queensland

He said the team eventually hoped to launch the drones along the 2,300-kilometer reef.

Professor Dunbabin said the robot was equipped with a real-time guidance to avoid obstacles moving in any direction.

The managing director of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, Anna Marsden, said the robot could become a pair of additional eyes and hands for the front-line personnel who manage the reef.

"Due to the size and complexity (of the reef), effective management is a gigantic and expensive task," he said.

RangerBot is a collaboration between QUT, Google and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.