In a first, researchers from Australia have designed a robot that can seek and destroy Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (COTS) that are a major threat to the endangered Great Barrier Reefs’ coral. While climate change remains a major threat to the existence of corals, COTS are known to destroy 40% of the reefs’ coral.
Developed by Queensland University of Technology Institute for Future Environments and known as COTSbot, the robot is designed to autonomously patrol and monitor the reefs for COTS. Whenever COTSbot encounters a deadly starfish it will administer a lethal injection of bile salts. The infected starfish thereafter breaks out in blisters that burst open and exposes its internal organs. Moreover this condition is infectious and can be passed on to other COTS. The infected starfish dies within 24 hours.
COTSbot has been engineered to search the reef for up to eight hours wherein it can deliver more than 200 lethal shots. It will be put to test later this month and the robot is expected to begin its work in December.