Robotics to help the reef

A UNDERWATER drone can revolutionize the way scientists provide the Great Barrier Reef.

The RangerBot, launched yesterday in Townsville at ReefHQ, uses a hi-tech vision system to see underwater and will be used for tasks such as identifying and injecting the thorn crystal starfish and monitoring coral bleaching.

QUT Professor Matthew Dunbabin said that after almost two years of research, development and testing, RangerBot could now take action.

"We did things with underwater drones, but looking at one that is small enough to do some things is pretty incredible," he said.

"It can be taken out in a boat and put overboard to do surveys for 15 to 20 minutes or up to eight hours if you want to change the battery life."

The small robot weighs 15 kg and can be operated using a smart tablet.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science recently took part in trials with the RangerBot on the Great Barrier Reef.

"We find new applications all the time," said Professor Dunbabin.

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