Latest in Gear

Image credit: stephankerkhofs via Getty Images

Spear-toting robot can guard coral reefs against invasive lionfish

It would keep divers out of harm's way.
1083 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

stephankerkhofs via Getty Images

Lionfish are threats to not only fragile coral reef ecosystems, but the divers who keep them in check. They not only take advantage of unsuspecting fish populations, but carry poisonous spines that make them challenging to catch. Student researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute may have a solution: robotic guardians. They've crafted an autonomous robot (below) that can hunt lionfish without requiring a tethered operator that could harm the reefs.

The bot attaches to an existing submersible robot and relies on computer vision (trained with thousands of photos) to spot examples of the invasive species and jab them with one of its eight spears. Each spear tip is detachable and buoyant, so any successful kill sends the fish to the surface. The machine is well-suited to the realities of the ocean, too -- it's both resistant to saltwater corrosion and uses an airtight chamber to maintain buoyancy after every spear use.

WPI's automaton isn't ready for service yet. A follow-up group of students will work on a navigation system that can help the robot create a 3D search grid. If that's successful, though, the robot could become a valuable part of reef defense that spares humans from getting involved until (and unless) they have no other choice.

WPI's autonomous lionfish-hunting robot

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
1083 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

Two Halo characters are joining ‘Gears 5’

Two Halo characters are joining ‘Gears 5’

View
Sony Interactive snaps up 'Spider-Man' developer Insomniac Games

Sony Interactive snaps up 'Spider-Man' developer Insomniac Games

View
Microsoft’s SMS Organizer will declutter your texts

Microsoft’s SMS Organizer will declutter your texts

View
Twitter bans advertising from state-controlled news outlets

Twitter bans advertising from state-controlled news outlets

View
'Cyberpunk 2077' and 'Mortal Kombat 11' are coming to Google Stadia

'Cyberpunk 2077' and 'Mortal Kombat 11' are coming to Google Stadia

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr